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Dictionary of 
Ancient Egypt 



This pocket edition first published by Egypt in 2002 by 
The American University in Cairo Press 
113 Kasr el Aini Street, Cairo, Egypt 

© 1995 The Trustees of The British Museum 
Published by arrangement withThc British Museum Press 

First published 1995 

First published in paperback 1997 

All rights reserved 

Designed by Harry Green 

Dar el Kutub no. 10453/02 
isbn 977424762 0 

Printed and bound in Spain by Grafos S.A., 


frontispiece Detail of wedjat-eyes above a false door 
with decoration imitating textiles. From the wooden 
inner coffin of the commander Sepy. Middle Kingdom, 
c. 2000 bc, from Deir el-Bersha, t.. 2.13 m. (e.i55315) 

pages 4—5 Two male guests at the funeral feast of the 
vizier Ramose in his tomb at Thebes. 18th Dynasty, 

C. 1390-1336 BC. (GRAHAM HARRISON) 










Entries A-Z 




Appendix 1 

Appendix 2 



List of bibliographical 



Note on the illustrations 

Lower Egyptian nome signs 


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FACING page Map of Egypt, showing the main 
sites mentioned in the text. The Egyptians 
themselves made a clear geographical 
distinction between Upper Egypt, consisting of 
the Nile Valley from Memphis to Aswan, and 
Lower Egypt (or the Delta), where the Nile fans 
out into several tributaries in its final descent to 
the Mediterranean. The twenty-two nomes 
(provinces) of Upper Egypt and the twenty 
nomes of Lower Egypt are also indicated, and 
the nome capitals, where known, are 
underlined. Each nome had its own symbol or 
standard, often incorporating animals, birds or 
fetishes sacred to the local deities. 

above Map of the Ancient Near East, showing 
Egypt’s neighbours in western Asia and the 
Mediterranean region. For most of the 
Pharaonic period Egypt was well protected by 
its natural geographical surroundings, 
consisting of the Sinai peninsula and the Red 
Sea to the east, the Sahara Desert to the west, 
and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. In the 
New Kingdom the Egyptians’ ‘empire’ 
extended well beyond these traditional borders, 
as they vied with Mitanni and the Hittitcs for 
hegemony over the city-states of Svria- 
Palestine. It was only in the Late Period 
(r. 747-332 bc) that Egypt itself finally 
succumbed to the invading armies of Nubia, 
Assyria and Persia. 



When this book was first produced, no reliable 
general dictionary of ancient Egypt was available in 
English, and the task of deciding what to include 
here and what to leave out was not easy. Many of 
the headings in this dictionary are derived from 
discussions with students and colleagues, but 
responsibility for the final list is ours. The book 
largely results from the need to find concise and 
accurate definitions of key terms in Egyptology, 
some of which have become obscure and archaic 
over the years. The principal aim has been to pro¬ 
vide a reference work accessible to anyone with an 
interest in ancient Egypt, as well as to the academic 
community. The short bibliographies which accom¬ 
pany most entries are given in chronological, rather 
than alphabetical, order so that the list moves from 
early sources to more recent studies. 

The spelling of ancient Egyptian personal names 
is a continual source of difficulty. Thus the kings 
cited here as ‘Amenhotep’ may be found elsewhere 
as ‘Amenhotpe’, or in the Greek form ‘Amenophis’. 
We have chosen spellings that are as far as possible 
consistent with the transliteration of the original 
Egyptian, which has the added benefit of being 
consistent with those used by Stephen Quirke and 
Jeffrey Spencer in the British Museum hook of 
ancient Egypt (London, 1992) and other BMP pub¬ 
lications. In the headings of entries describing 
ancient sites, on the other hand, we have opted for 
the most commonly used name. Alternative forms 
of names are given in the text and index. We have 
endeavoured to make the index as comprehensive 
as possible in the hope that readers will find it help¬ 
ful in researching topics or individuals not covered 
by specific headings in the text. 

The chronological table provided here is that 
preferred by the Department of Ancient Egypt and 
Sudan in the British Museum. Because of the diffi¬ 
culties in establishing a single absolute chronology 
for ancient Egypt, both dates and lists of individual 
rulers tend to differ from one book to another, but 
most current chronological schemes will be found 
to be broadly similar to the one used here. Since 
Egyptologists tend to refer to 'dynasties’ and ‘king¬ 
doms’ in a way which can be confusing to the non¬ 
specialist, we have tried to give absolute dates bc 
and ad wherever possible. 

The entries are supplemented by two appen¬ 
dices. The first of these lists the names and dates of 
Egyptologists mentioned in the text (some of 
whom have individual entries and bibliographies in 
the main text). The second appendix lists the rec¬ 
ognized numbers of Theban Tombs (designated tt) 
and those in the Valley of the Kings (designated 
kv), along with their occupants and dynasties. 
Throughout the dictionary there are frequent ref¬ 
erences to these tomb-numbers, as well as occa¬ 
sional mention of tomb-numbers at other sites, such 
as el-Amarna (ea), Beni Hasan (bh), Elkab (ek), 
Giza (g) and Saqqara. 

Should readers require further detail on certain 
topics they are advised to consult both the bibli¬ 
ographies at the end of each entry and the following 
more specialized reference works: M. Lurker, The 
gods and symbols of ancient Egypt (London, 1974); 
W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf (eds), 
Lexikon der Agyptologie , 7 vols (Wiesbaden, 
1975-1988); G. Hart, A dictionary of Egyptian gods 
and goddesses (London, 1986); R. and A. David, A 
biographical dictionary of ancient Egypt (London, 


1992); J. Baines and J. Malek, Atlas of ancient Egypt 
(Phaidon, 1984); and W. R. Dawson, E. P. Uphill 
and M. L. Bierbrier, Who mas mho in Egyptology , 
3rd ed. (London, 1995). G. Posener’s A dictionary 
of Egyptian civilization (London, 1962), although 
now somewhat in need of updating and out of print 
in English, provides a good range of information on 
many general Egyptological topics. 


We would like to thank a number of individuals and 
institutions for their help during the course of this 
project. Firstly we would like to thank the staff of 
the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the 
British Museum, who have not stinted in sharing 
their scholarship with us. We are also grateful to 
many friends and colleagues with whom we have 
discussed subjects relevant to this book, including 
Dr W. Z. Wendrich, who wrote part of the entry on 
basketry and cordage, Joann Fletcher, who pro¬ 
vided valuable information for the entry on hair 
and wigs, Dr Delwen Samuel, who supplied infor¬ 
mation on ancient brewing techniques, and 
Margaret Serpico, who kindly provided informa¬ 
tion on oils and incense. We would also like to 
thank Janine Bourriau, Sarah Buckingham, Barry 
Kemp, Professor Harry Smith and the staff of the 
various expeditions to Egypt with which we are 
involved. We should emphasize, however, that the 
final responsibility for the opinions expressed 
remains our own. In addition, we would like to 

acknowledge the support we have received from 
University College London and Cardiff University. 

For assistance with various aspects of the pro¬ 
duction of the typescript and photographs we 
would like to thank Geoff Boden, Dr Caitlin Buck 
and John Morgan of Cardiff University and Dr 
Nick Fieller of the University of Sheffield. 

Joanna Champness, Celia Clear, Emma Way and 
Julie Young of British Museum Press gave much 
useful help and advice concerning the production 
of the original book, and Carolyn Jones and 
Christine King on the present edition. 

For illustrations we are grateful to the staff of the 
British Museum Photographic Service; to Graham 
Harrison; the Egyptian Museum Cairo (in particu¬ 
lar Dr Mohammed Saleh); the Griffith Institute, 
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art, New York (in particular Dr 
Dorothea Arnold) and the Musee du Louvre. 
Unless otherwise stated the line drawings are by 
William Schenck, to whom we are also indebted. 

Finally, we would like to thank Kate Trott, Ann 
Jones and Nia Shaw, who have helped in numerous 

Ian Shaw 
Paul Nicholson 




Abu Gurab (Abu Ghurob) 

Site on the west bank of the Nile between Giza 
and Saqqara, originally known to travellers as 
the ‘Pyramid of Righa’, although actually 
dominated by the remains of a sun temple 
erected by the 5th-Dynastv King Nyuserra 
(2445-2421 bc) whose pyramid stands a short 
distance to the south at abusir. It became cus¬ 
tomary in the 5th Dynasty for the rulers to 
express their devotion to the I Ieliopolitan sun- 
god ra by building sun temples in addition to 
their own pyramid complexes. Abu Gurab is 
the best preserved of the two surviving exam¬ 
ples (the other being that of Userkaf at 
Abusir), although at least six are known to 
have been built. 

The central feature of the temple was a 
large, squat monument, the proportions of 
which were midway between a benben stone 
and a true obelisk. Both the ‘obelisk’ and the 
tapering platform on which it stood were 
masonry constructions rather than monolith¬ 
ic. In front of the monument (of which only 
the core of the plinth remains) is a large open 
court, and in the centre of this open area is a 
massive travertine altar comprising a disc 

Plan of Abu Gurab. 

below General view of the sun temple of the 5th- 
Dynasty King Nyuserra at Abu Gurab. The mound 
to the left is the base of the large squat obelisk; the 
travertine altar to its right is obscured by the 
enclosure wall. The Giza pyramids are visible on the 
skyline in the far distance, (p. T. nicholsos) 




surrounded on each side by four carved exam¬ 
ples of the hieroglyphic sign hetep (‘offering’), 
giving the whole an unusual cruciform shape. 
The altar is flanked on the north by a slaugh¬ 
ter area and by temple magazines. The 
entrance to the temple is linked with a ‘valley 
building’ by a covered causeway, like those 
connecting pyramids with their valley tem¬ 
ples. On reaching the temple proper, the 
causeway becomes a corridor running down 
the east side of the courtyard and along the 
south side. This corridor, which contained 
reliefs of the sed festival (royal jubilee), led 
to the ‘room of the seasons’ (containing paint¬ 
ed reliefs depicting the seasons of the 
Egyptian year) and ended in a chapel decorat¬ 
ed with scenes of the dedication of the temple. 
Although these are evidently important 
scenes, they were carved on poor stone 
enhanced with a coating of lime plaster - such 
economies perhaps illustrate the strain on the 
finances of the Egyptian elite because of the 
need to build both pyramids and temples. To 
the south of the temple was a brick-built imi¬ 
tation of the BARK of the sun-god. 

The site was excavated at the turn of the 
century by the German scholars Ludwig 
Borchardt, Heinrich Schafer and Friedrich 
von Bissing, who sent many of the reliefs to 
museums in Germany, where a number of 
them were destroyed during the Second World 

E. Winter, ‘Zur Deutung der 
Sonnenheiligtiimer dcr 5. Dynastie’, WZKM 54 
(1957), 222-33. 

E. Edel and S. Wenig, Die Jahreszeitenreliefs a us 
dem Sonnenheiligtum des Konigs Ne-user-re, 
Mitteilungen aus dcr agvptischen Sammlung 8 
(Berlin, 1974). 

W. Stevenson Smith, The art and architecture of 
ancient Egypt , 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth, 1981), 
128-32, figs 124-5. 

D. Wildung, Ni-User-Re: Sonnenkonig- 
Sonnengott (Munich, 1985). 

Abu Roash (Abu Rawash) 

Site of the unfinished funerary complex of the 
4th-Dynasty ruler Djedefra (2566-2558 bc), 
the ancient name for which was ‘Djedefra is a 
sehedu star’. The pyramid, situated to the 
north of giza on the west bank of the Nile, was 
evidently in better condition in 1839, when it 
was first examined bv Richard Howard Vyse 
and John Perring. Since then, the site has suf¬ 
fered heavily, having been used as a quarry in 
the 1880s, but enough stone blocks remain to 
show that it was intended to be partly encased 
in red granite. 

The mortuary temple on the east side of the 
pyramid and a large boat pit to the south were 

both excavated by Emile Chassinat in 1901. 
The boat pit contained many fragments of red 
quartzite statuary, including three painted 
heads from statues of Djedefra, one of which 
was probably from the earliest known royal 
sphinx (Louvre i:i2626), as well as the lower 
section of a statue of the king accompanied by 
Queen Khentetka. Because of the nature of 
the local topography, the causeway (linking the 
mortuary temple with the valley temple) 
approaches from the northeast rather than the 

To the north of the pyramid is Wadi Qarun, 
site of the still unexcavated valley temple, as 
well as a number of remains of a much later 
date, including part of a statue of Queen 
Arsinoe ii, sister and wife of PTOLEMY u 
Philadelphus (285-246 bc). Objects bearing 
the names of the lst-Dynasty pharaohs aha 
(f.3100 bc) and den (g2950 bc) have also been 
found at Abu Roash, indicating a strong Early 
Dynastic presence at the site. 

To the east of the pyramid complex is an 
Old Kingdom cemetery, which was also exca¬ 
vated by Chassinat. About two kilometres to 
the south are the remains of a brick-built 
pyramid, comprising a knoll of rock and a bur¬ 
ial chamber. This pyramid, the date of which 
is unknown, was still relatively well preserved 
when it was recorded in the early nineteenth 

century by the German scholar Karl Richard 

F. Bisson df. la Roque, Rapport sur les fouilles 
d’Abu Roasch , 3 vols (Cairo, 1924-5). 

C. Desroches-Nobit.court (ed.), Un siecle de 
fouilles frunguises en Egypte, 1880-1980 (Paris, 
1981), 44-53. 

M. Vallogia, ‘Le complex funerairc de Radjedef 
a Abu Roash’, BSFE 130 (1994), 5-17. 

Abu Simbel 

Site of two rock-cut temples of Rameses n 
(1279-1213 bc), located about 250 km south¬ 
east of Aswan. The temples were discovered 
by the traveller Jean-Louis Burckhardt in 1813 
and cleared by Giovanni belzoni four years 
later. The largest temple is dedicated to 
Amun-Ra, Ra-Horakhty, Ptah and the deified 
Rameses n. The facade is dominated by four 
colossal seated figures of Rameses n wearing 
the double crown and nemes hcaddoth. 
Between the two pairs of figures is the 

The fagade of the 'great temple' of Rameses u at 
Abu Simbel. The four seated colossi of the king are 
each 20 m high; the damagedfigure was left 
unrestored when the temple was moved to higher 
ground as part of the UNESCO operation to 
preserve it from the waters of Lake Nasser. 





The temples of (A) Rameses it and (B) his queen, 
Nefertari, and the goddess Halhor at Abu Sitnbel. 

entrance to the cavernous interior of the mon¬ 
ument, and flanking it, beneath the feet and 
throne of the king, are the nine bows, the tra¬ 
ditional enemies of Egypt. The monument 
thus symbolized Rameses n’s domination of 
nubia, as well as his piety to the gods. 

The ‘great temple’ is precisely aligned so 
that twice a year (during February and 
October) the rising sun illuminates the sanctu¬ 
ary and seated statues of the gods at the rear¬ 
most point of the temple. The temple is con¬ 
ventional in its overall layout, with a large pil¬ 
lared hall immediately beyond the entrance 
leading to a smaller pillared hall, followed by a 
vestibule and sanctuary. The standard of 
workmanship on the wall carvings is not high, 
though they are vigorous and retain their 
painted colour. The temple was decorated in 
the 34th year of Rameses’ reign, and there is a 
discernible decline in artistic standard com¬ 
pared with the decoration of the earlier tem¬ 
ples at ABYDOS. At the southern end of the 
external terrace a stele records the marriage of 
Rameses to a daughter of the hittite king 
Hattusilis m, valuable evidence of diplomatic 
relations at the time. 

A little to the north of the great temple lies 
a smaller rock-cut temple dedicated to Queen 
nefertari and the goddess hathor of Abshek. 
This fayade features two standing figures of 

the king, flanking those of his queen, on each 
side of the entrance. A passage leads to a six- 
pillared hall with siSTRUM-capital columns, 
followed by a vestibule, and finally the sanctu¬ 
ary, where a statue of the goddess Hathor pro¬ 
tects Rameses n. 

In the 1960s these temples were threatened 
by the rising waters of Lake Nasser resulting 
from the construction of the Aswan High 
Dam and were dismantled, moved and 
reassembled on higher ground, through the 
co-operation of archaeologists and engineers 
working under a UNESCO initiative. 

W. MacQuitty, Abu Sitnbel (London, 1965). 

C. Desroci iks- Noblecourt and C. Kuentz, 

Le petit temple d'Abou Sitnbel, 2 vols (Cairo, 1968). 
T. Save-Soderbergh (ed.), Temples and tombs of 
ancient Nubia (London, 1987). 


Part of the necropolis of ancient Memphis, 
consisting of several pyramids of the 5th 
Dynasty (2494-2345 bc), a sun temple (see 
abu gurab), and a number of mastaba tombs 
and Late Period (747-332 bc) shaft tombs. 
Userkaf, founder of the 5th Dynasty, built his 
pyramid at Saqqara and a sun temple at 
Abusir, a short distance to the north. At least 
four of his successors (Sahura, Neferirkara, 
Raneferef and Nyuserra) therefore chose 
Abusir as the location for their funerary mon¬ 
uments, the ancient names of which were ‘The 
ba of Sahura gleams’, ‘Neferirkara has become 

a ba\ ‘The has of Raneferef are divine’ and 
‘The places of Nyuserra are enduring’. The 
finest of the mastaba tombs at Abusir is that ot 
the 5th-Dynasty vizier Ptahshepses, a relative 
of Nyuserra, which incorporates two boat¬ 
shaped rooms presumably meant to hold full- 
sized boats, an unusual feature of a private 

The funerary monument of Sahura 
(2487-2475 bc), the most complete of the four 
royal burials at Abusir, is the quintessential 
5th-Dynasty pyramid complex, consisting of 
valley temple, causeway, mortuary temple and 
pyramid. The imposing portico of the mortu¬ 
ary temple gave access to a large courtyard 
with a well-preserved basalt-paved floor and a 
colonnade consisting of sixteen red granite 
palm columns (the latter now largely 
destroyed). The remains of the original lime¬ 
stone walls, with their fine painted decoration, 
have been transferred to the Egyptian 
Museum in Cairo and the Bodemuscum in 
Berlin. Beyond the colonnade were a series of 
store rooms surrounding the ‘statue chamber’, 
where the king’s statues stood in niches, and 
immediately adjacent to the pyramid was the 
sanctuary with its alabaster altar. In the south¬ 
eastern corner of the complex stood a small 
subsidiary pyramid. 

When Ludwig Borchardt excavated 
Sahura’s complex in 1902—8, he discovered the 
earliest temple relief of the king smiting his 
enemies, as well as reliefs depicting the cat- 




goddess bastkt in a corridor surrounding the 
palm-columned court. In the New Kingdom 
this corridor seems to have been re-roofed and 
used as a sanctuary for a local form of the 
lioness-goddess sekhmet. 

The complexes of Neferirkara (2475—2455 
bc) and Nyuserra (2445-2421 bc) are both 
unfinished and poorly preserved. The complex 
of Neferirkara, although clearly intended to be 
larger than that of Sahura, is now best known 
for the large quantity of papyri from the mor¬ 
tuary temple, providing valuable evidence on 
the organization of royal funerary cults in the 
Old Kingdom. The papyri date from the reign 
of Isesi to that of PEPY ii, and mainly consist of 
rotas for temple personnel, inventories of cult 
objects, and letters. Neferirkara’s causeway 

Plan of the 5th-Dynasty pyramid complexes at 

was evidently usurped by Nyuserra, who 
diverted it to his own mortuary temple. The 
poor quality of the rubble core used in these 
pyramids has left them in poor condition, 
especially since the fine blocks of outer casing 
have been plundered. To the northwest of the 
pyramid of Sahura are the remains of another 
unfinished pyramid complex, which probably 
belonged to Shepseskara (2455—2448 bc:), the 
ephemeral successor of Neferirkara. 

Since the 1970s the work of a team of Czech 
archaeologists, under the direction of 
Miroslav Verner, has revealed the mud-brick 

mortuary temple of Raneferef (2448-2445 bc), 
whose unfinished pyramid was actually trans¬ 
formed into a MASTABA tomb. Their finds have 
included a second papyrus archive, a group of 
seals, a collection of cult objects, and the most 
important surviving group of 5th-Dynasty 
royal sculpture, including an unusual painted 
limestone statue of Raneferef himself with a 
Horus-falcon embracing the back of his head, 
as well as wooden statuettes of bound captives. 

The Czech archaeologists have also uncov¬ 
ered the original pyramid complex and tem¬ 
ples of Queen Khentkawes (mother of Sahura 
and Neferirkara), which was probably a ceno¬ 
taph, since she also had a mastaba tomb 
between the causeways of Khufu and Khafra 
at giza. In 1988-9 they excavated the shaft- 

tomb of the Persian-period ‘chief physician’, 
Udjahorresnet, who served as chancellor to 
Cambyses and Darius i (see Persia). 

L. Borchardt, Das Grabdenkmal des Konigs Ne- 
user-Re (Leipzig, 1907). 

—, Das Grabdenkmal des Konigs Nefer-ir-ka-Re 
(Leipzig, 1909). 

—, Das Grabdenkmal des Konigs Sahu-Re 
(Leipzig, 1910-13). 

P. Posener-Krieger and J.-L. de Centval, 
Hieratic papyri in the British Museum: the Abusir 
papyri (London, 1968). 

H. RiCKE, Das Sonnenheiligtum des Konigs 
Userkaf 2 vols (Cairo, 1965; Wiesbaden, 1969). 

P. Kaplony, ‘Das Papyrus Archiv von Abusir’, 
Orienlalia 41 (1972), 180-244. 

P. Posener-Krieger, Les archives du temple 
funeraire de Neferirkare (Les papyrus d’Abousir), 

2 vols (Cairo, 1976). 

M. Verner, ‘Excavations at Abusir, season 
1978-9, preliminary excavation report: the 
pyramid of Queen Khentkawes (“A”)’, ZAS 107 
(1980), 158-64. 

—, ‘Remarques preliminaires sur les nouveaux 
papyrus d’Abousir’, Agypten: Dauer und Wandel 
(Mainz, 1986), 35-43. 

Abydos (anc. Abdjw) 

Sacred site located on the west bank of the 
Nile, 50 km south of modern Sohag. The site 
of Abydos, centre of the cult of the god osiris, 
flourished from the Predynastic period until 
Christian times (f.4000 bc-ad 641). The earli¬ 
est significant remains are the tombs of named 
rulers of the Protodynastic and Early Dynastic 
periods (z*.3100—2686 bc). The earliest temple 
at the site is that of the canine god Osiris- 
Khentimentiu (Kom el-Sultan). An extensive 
settlement of the Pharaonic period and 
numerous graves and cenotaphs of humans 
and animals have also been excavated. 

The site is still dominated by the temples of 
Sety i (1294-1279 bc) and his son Rameses n 
(1279-1213 bc), although an earlier chapel, 
constructed in the reign of Rameses i 
(1295-1294 bc), has survived in the form of a 
number of blocks of relief. The cult temple of 
Sety i is an L-shaped limestone building, and 
the iconography of its exquisite painted reliefs 
has been used to interpret the procedures of 
the religious rituals that were enacted there. 
In one scene Rameses u is shown reading out 
the names of previous kings from a papyrus 
roll in the presence of his father. The contents 
of the document are carved on the adjacent 
wall; this KING LIST (along with a similar list 
from the temple of Rameses n) has made an 
important contribution to studies of Egyptian 

Behind the temple of Sety I is the Osireion, 
a building constructed of huge granite blocks 
which has been interpreted as a kind of ceno¬ 
taph of the god Osiris. The structure is 
entered via a long descending gallery and dec¬ 
orated with excerpts from the Book of Gates 
and the Book of the Dead, as well as cosmo¬ 
logical and dramatic texts. It was once thought 
to be an Old Kingdom building, because of the 
grandiose scale of the masonry, but it has now 
been dated to the reigns of Sety i and 
Merenptah and the style is generally pre¬ 
sumed to have been an attempt at archaizing 
by New Kingdom architects. 

The Abydos cemeteries, including the Early 
Dynastic necropolis now known as Umm el- 
Qa‘ab, were excavated in the late nineteenth and 




early twentieth centuries by the French archae¬ 
ologists Auguste Mariette and Emile 
Amelineau, and the British archaeologists 
Flinders Petrie and Eric Peet. In the 1960s 
Barry Kemp reanalysed the results of the exca¬ 
vations conducted by Petrie and Peet, and sug¬ 
gested that the Early Dynastic royal tombs were 
complemented by a row of ‘funerary enclo¬ 
sures’ to the east, which may well have been the 
prototypes of the mortuary temples in Old 
Kingdom pyramid complexes (see also giza and 
SAQQARA). In 1991 the excavations of David 
O’Connor revealed further support for this the¬ 
ory in the form of a number of Early Dynastic 
wooden boat graves near the Shunet el-Zebib, 
the best preserv ed of the ‘funerary enclosures’. 

A team of German excavators, who have 

BELOW Two dolomite vases with gold covers, from 
the tomb of King Khasekhemwy at Abydos. 2nd 
Dynasty, c.2690 BC, H. of taller vase 5.7 cm. 


1 Umm el-Qa‘ab: Early Dynastic 
royal tombs 

2 Shunet el-Zebib and other Early Dynastic 
‘funerary enclosures’ 

3 Kom el-Sultan: temple of 

and surrounding settlement 

4 temple of Rameses II 

5 temple of Sety I and Osireion 

6 modern village of 
el-Araba el-Madfuna 

7 temple of Senusret III 

8 Middle and New Kingdom 

9 pyramid of Ahmose and temple of 
Ahmose Nefertari 

10 cenotaph of Tetisheri 

11 and 12 cenotaph and 
temple of Ahmose 

13 cenotaph of Senusret III 



400 800 1200 j1600 2000 m 

12 >, 111111 / 1 ,,. """'inn mi#'' 

.fill .. 



4 % 



7 0 " ,,uV 

been working in the vicinity of the Early 
Dynastic royal cemetery since 1973, have 
obtained evidence to suggest that there are 
strong cultural links between Petrie’s royal 
graves at Umm el-Qa‘ab (traditionally dated to 
Dynasty I, the very beginning of the Early 
Dynastic phase at Abydos) and the adjacent 
late Predynastic Cemetery u. They therefore 
argue that the line of powerful historical rulers 
buried at Abydos may now be pushed further 
back into what was previously considered to be 

The tomh of the lst-Dynastv ruler Djer at 
Umm el-Qa‘ab became identified with the 
tomb of Osiris from at least the late Middle 
Kingdom onwards, and during the 12th 
Dynasty (1985-1795 bc) it became common 
for individuals from elsewhere in Egypt to be 
buried at Abydos. It also appears to have 
become increasingly common for private indi¬ 
viduals to make ‘pilgrimages’ to Abydos so 
that they could participate posthumously in 
the festivals of Osiris; large numbers of tombs 

and cenotaphs (or ‘offering chapels’) were 
therefore constructed at the northern end of 
the site, in the vicinity of Kom el-Sultan. 
About two thousand stelae and numerous 
offering tables and statues have been plun¬ 
dered and excavated from these funerary mon¬ 
uments. The stelae have provided a great deal 
of information concerning the cult of Osiris, 
the literary structure of funerary autobiogra¬ 
phies, and a wealth of details concerning the 
middle-ranking officials of the Middle 
Kingdom and their families. 

The southern end of the site incorporates 
both Middle and New Kingdom archaeological 
remains; a pyramid temple, cenotaph and ter¬ 
raced temple of ahmose i (1550-1525 bc) and 
AHMOSE NEFERTARI were excavated by Charles 
Currelly in 1901. In 1993 Stephen Harvey 
undertook new excavations in this area, reveal¬ 
ing fragments of painted reliefs of Ahmose I, 

right Plan of the temple of Sety l and the 
Osireion at Abydos. 

above Plan of Abydos. 

entrance corridor 

1 chapels A N 

2 second hypostyle hall 

3 first hypostyle hall 

4 portico (destroyed) „ . . 

5 wells 0sirel ° 

6 pylon (destroyed) 

7 king list 

8 mudbrick magazines 

^I—IH IR ::!::::: j=j: 

pt-i iEfrnit 

first court 

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 




which perhaps depict his campaigns against the 
hyksos at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty. 

A. Mariette, Abydos: description des fouilles 
executees sur Vemplacement de cette ville , 2 vols 
(Paris, 1869-80). 

W. M. F. Petrie, The royal tombs of the earliest 
dynasties, 2 vols (London, 1900-1). 

A. M. Calverley and M. F. Broome, The temple 
of king Sethos / at Abydos , 4 vols (London and 
Chicago, 1933-58). 

FI. Frankfort, The cenotaph ofSeti t at Abydos 
(London, 1933). 

B. J. Kemp, ‘The Egyptian 1st Dynasty royal 
cemetery’, Antiquity 41 (1967), 22—32. 

W. K. Simpson, Terrace of the Great God at 
Abydos: the offering chapels of Dynasties 12 and 13 
(New Haven and Philadelphia, 1974). 

A. R. David, A guide to religious ritual at Abydos 
(Warminster, 1981). 

D. O’Connor, ‘The cenotaphs of the Middle 
Kingdom at Abydos’, Melanges Gamal eddin 
Mokhtar n (Cairo, 1985), 161-77. 

—, ‘Boat graves and pyramid origins: new 
discoveries at Abydos, Egypt’, Expedition 33/3 
(1991), 5-17. 

G. Dreyer, ‘Umm el-Qa‘ab: 
Nachuntersuchungen im friihzeitlichen 
Konigsfriedhof 5./6. Vorbcricht’, MDAIK 49 
(1993), 23-62 [preliminary reports on earlier 
seasons published in MDAIK 35, 38 and 46]. 

S. Harvey, ‘Monuments of Ahmose at Abydos’, 
Egyptian Archaeology 4 (1994), 3-5. 


The process of social and economic control of 
the population was an area of life in which the 
Egyptians excelled. Many of the surviving 
artefacts and documents of the early dynas¬ 
tic period (g3 100-2686 Be), such as ivory 
labels and wine-jar sealings, were clearly ele¬ 
ments of an emerging administrative infra¬ 
structure. The evidence for Egyptian adminis¬ 
tration consists of two basic elements: proso- 
pography (i.e. textual records of the names, 
titles and professions of individuals) and the 
archaeological remains relating to supply and 
demand of commodities such as grain, beer 
and wine. The granaries surrounding the mor¬ 
tuary temple of Rameses n (the ramesseum), 
for instance, are tangible remains of the 
increasingly elaborate system of storage and 
distribution that sustained those employed by 
the temple and state in Egypt. 

The key factor in the administration of 
Early Dynastic Egypt, as in the early city- 
states of Mesopotamia, appears to have been 
the use of writing as a means of political con¬ 
trol. The scribe was therefore the most impor¬ 
tant element of the administration, a fact 
which is recognized both in ‘pro-scribal’ liter¬ 

ary works such as the 12th-Dynasty Satire on 
the Trades and in the popularity of statuary 
representing high officials in the scribal pose. 
It was the scribal profession that was responsi¬ 
ble for assessing individuals’ agricultural pro¬ 
duce and collecting taxes on behalf of the king, 
provincial governor or temple official. 

In the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc) there 
were two principal state offices apart from that 
of king: the vizier (tjayty sab tjaty) and the 
overseer of royal works (imy-r kat nesiv). The 
title vizier is first attested on inscribed stone 
vessels beneath the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, 
suggesting that the office was introduced 
at least as early as the 2nd Dynasty. After the 
unification of the country in the late fourth 
millennium bc, the various regions retained a 
degree of independence in their role as 
provinces (or nomes) ruled by local governors 
(nomarchs). Whenever the central adminis¬ 
tration was weakened, whether through inva¬ 
sion or economic decline, power tended to 
devolve back to the nomes, as in the first and 
second so-called ‘intermediate periods’ (see 

By the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) the 
Egyptian administration had considerably 
diversified; because it was no longer possible 
for the king to control all aspects of govern¬ 
ment, the role of the vizier had grown more 
important. The authority of both the king and 
his vizier had also been strengthened since the 
12th Dynasty, apparently as a result of a poli¬ 
cy of reduction in the power of the nomarchs. 
In the 18th Dynasty there were two viziers, 
northern and southern, but most of the sur¬ 
viving evidence concerns the southern vizier, 

since fewer administrative documents have 
survived for this period in Lower Egypt. The 
walls of the Theban tomb of Rekhmira, who 
was southern vizier in the reigns of Thutmose 
iii (1479-1425 bc) and Amenhotep n 
(1427-1400 bc), are decorated with his funer¬ 
ary biography as well as an inscription known 

Fragment of a mall-painting from the tomb of 
Nebamun at Thebes, showing geese being counted 
for a tax assessment of agricultural produce. 18th 
Dynasty, c. 1400 bc, it. 71 cm. (ea37978) 

as ‘the duties of the vizier’, which outlines the 
responsibilities of the post. 

The New Kingdom national administration 
was divided into three sections: the dynasty, 
the internal administration and external 
affairs. The ‘dynasty’ consisted of royal rela¬ 
tives, most of whom held little political or eco¬ 
nomic power, perhaps because it was they who 
might have posed the greatest threat to the 
king. The internal administration comprised 
four sections: the ‘royal domain’, the army and 
navy, the religious hierarchy and the secular 
(or civil) officials. 

The royal domain included such posts as 
chancellor, chamberlain and chief steward, 
while the army and navy were led by a com- 
mander-in-chief with chief deputies of north 
and south below him. The religious adminis¬ 
tration was controlled by an ‘overseer of 
prophets of all the gods of Upper and Lower 
Egypt’, a post which was actually held at vari¬ 
ous times by the vizier or the chief priest of 
amun. The secular part of the internal admin¬ 
istration was headed by the northern and 
southern viziers, with overseers of the trea- 




suries and granaries below them; it was these 
officials who controlled the national bureau¬ 
cracy, judiciary and police. At a local level 
there were also ‘town mayors’ ( haty -) and 
councils ( kenbel ) in charge of the judiciary. 

The New Kingdom external administration 
was divided into two sectors: (1) the governors 
of the three northern lands (i.e. the provinces 
of Syria-Palestine) and (2) the governor of the 
southern lands, who was also known as the 
viceroy of KUSH (or King’s Son of Kush). 
Below the governors of the northern lands 
were local princes and garrison commanders, 
and below the Viceroy of Kush were the 
deputies ofWawat and Kush (the two regions 
of Egyptian-dominated Nubia), the mayors of 
Egyptian colonies and the local chiefs of the 

N. Kanawati, The Egyptian administration in the 
Old Kingdom: evidence of its economic decline 
(Warminster, 1977). 

T. G. H. James, Pharaoh's people: scenes from life 
in imperial Egypt (London, 1984), 51-72, 154-80. 
N. Strudwick, The administration of Egypt in the 
Old Kingdom (London, 1985). 

B. J. Kemp, ‘Large Middle Kingdom granary 
buildings (and the archaeology of 
administration)’, ZAS 113 (1986), 120-36. 

S. Quirk E, The administration of Egypt in the Late 
Middle Kingdom (New Malden, 1990). 


Greek word for ‘shield’, used by Egyptologists 
to describe a representation of a broad neck¬ 
lace surmounted with the head of a deity. 
Depictions of sacred barks show that they had 
an aegis attached to the prow. 

H. Bonnet, Reallexikon der Agyptischen 
Religionsgeschichte (Berlin, 1952), 8-9. 

ABOVE Jasper aegis incorporating 
a ram's head wearing sun-disc and 
cobra , h. 3.5 cm. (f.a3360) 

right Silver aegis with lion's 
head , //. 4.8 cm. (f.a57903) 


Term usually applied to Egyptian objects 
found outside the borders of Egypt itself, par¬ 
ticularly in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

afterlife see funerary beliefs 


The fundamental importance of agriculture in 
Egypt is attested from early times, with the 
development of land surveying as a means of 
re-determining land boundaries after the 
annual inundation had deposited its load of 
silt on the fields, and also the measuring of 
areas of land for taxation purposes. Scenes of 
government surveyors measuring agricultural 
land are known from the decoration of many 
tomb chapels such as that of Menna, an 

Detail of the Book of the Dead papyrus ofKerquny, 
showing the deceased ploughing and sowing. 

Ptolemaic period, c .250-150 bc. (f.\9911, sheet 2) 

18th-Dynasty Theban official (tt69). 

The development of the calendar itself 
was linked to careful observation of the agri¬ 
cultural year, the seasons being named in 
accordance with stages of the annual Nile 
cycle. Flooding began in mid-June, the time of 
the New Year, and maximum depth was usual¬ 
ly reached by mid-August, although the exact 
timing varied from north to south. The reach 
of the Nile was extended by the digging of 
irrigation canals which could also be used for 
moving water at times of low flood. Canals are 
first attested in the Early Dynastic period and 
it is likely that the reliefs on the macehead of 
King scorpion show the use of irrigation in 
the late predynastic: period. As soon as the 
inundation began to subside the farmers 
blocked canals in order to retain the water, 
which was not released for a further month 
and a half. In October or November the seed 
was broadcast by hand and then trampled in 
by sheep and goats (as well as pigs, according 
to Herodotus). 

The principal crop was grain, including 
barley ( Hordeum ; particularly the six-rowed 
variety) and three types of wheat: emmer 
(Triticum dieoccum), einkorn (Trilicum mono- 
coccum) and spelt (Triticum spelta). These were 
used to make bread and beer, the two great 
staples of Egyptian life. The rich soil could 
support at least two crops a year, but if a sec¬ 
ond was desired, during the summer, then it 




had to be irrigated manually. In the Old and 
Middle Kingdoms, a simple yoke and vessels 
were used to move the water, but the introduc¬ 
tion of the siiaduf in the New Kingdom and 
the sakkia (an animal-powered water wheel) in 
the Ptolemaic period not only made irrigation 
easier but also extended the area of cultivable 
land. Usually pulses rather than cereals were 
grown as a second crop, and although these 
‘fix’ nitrogen and so enrich the soil, the envi¬ 
ronmental effect was probably relatively trivial 
compared with that of the Nile flood. 

Numerous tomb-paintings depict grain 
being harvested with sickles, threshed using 
oxen, then winnowed and stored, while the 
quantities were carefully measured and 
recorded by scribes. Vegetables (including 
onions, garlic, peas, lentils, beans, radishes, 
cabbage, cucumbers and a type of lettuce) 
were usually grown in small square plots, 
attested both in tomb-paintings and in the 
archaeological record, as in the case of the veg¬ 
etable plots outside the ‘workmen’s village’ at 

oils were extracted from sesame, castor and 
flax (Ltnum usitatissimum), the latter also sup¬ 
plying the principal fibre for the making of 
linen textiles. Grapes were grown for wine, 
particularly in the Delta region and oases, and 
there are numerous scenes showing wine 
presses in use. Many ostraca have also sur¬ 
vived from wine-jars, usually recording the 
contents, date and origins of wine-jars. Wine 
and beer (see ALCOHOLIC beverages) were 
often flavoured with dates, and the fibres of 
the date palm were used in the making of 
cordage and basketry. 

Most of the agricultural land belonged to 
the king or the temples, and both kept copious 
records of its productivity. Officials often 
inflicted severe punishments on those who 
failed to meet grain quotas, and in many 
tombs, such as that of mereruka in the Old 
Kingdom, there are scenes of peasants being 
beaten for this reason. 

L. Keimer, ‘Agriculture in ancient Egypt’, 
American Journal of Semitic Languages am! 
Literature 42 (1926), 283-8. 

K. Baer, ‘An eleventh dynasty farmer’s letters to 
his family \JAOS 83 (1963), 1-19. 

J. Vandier, Manuel d'archeologic egyptienne i t: 
Scenes de la vie agricole a I'ancien et an moyen 
empire (Paris, 1978). 

T. G. H. James, Pharaoh's people: scenes from life 
in imperial Egypt (Oxford, 1984), 100-31. 

H. Wilson, Egyptian food and drink (Princes 
Risborough, 1988). 

E. Strouhal, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 91-107. 

W. Wet rERSTROM, ‘Foraging and farming in 

Egypt: the transition from hunting and 
gathering to horticulture in the Nile valley’, The 
archaeology of Africa, ed. T. Shaw et al. (London, 
1993), 165-226. 

A Group (A Horizon) 

Term first used by the American archaeologist 
George Reisner to refer to a semi-nomadic 
Nubian Neolithic culture of the mid-fourth to 
early third millennium bc. More recently, 
W. Y. Adams has suggested that the A Group 
and their successors the c group should be 
referred to as the A and C ‘horizons’, since the 
use of the term ‘group’ can give the mislead¬ 
ing impression that they were two separate 

Selection of objects from an A-Group grave, 
including two Egyptian imports (the tall jar and 
painted pot), c .3500-3000 bc, it. of talljar 45 cm. 
(F.A5U93, 51187, 51188, 51191, 51192) 

ethnic groups rather than simply two phases 
in the material culture of the Nubians. 

Traces of the A Group, which probably 
evolved gradually out of the preceding Abkan 
culture, have survived throughout Lower 
Nubia. The archaeological remains at sites 
such as Afyeh (near Aswan) suggest that they 
lived mainly in temporary reed-built encamp¬ 
ments or rock shelters, usually in the immedi¬ 
ate area of the Nile, surviving through a 
diverse combination of hunting, gathering, 
fishing, the cultivation of wheat and barley, 
and the herding of sheep, goats and cattle. 

Extensive A-Group cemeteries, typically 
including black-polished and ‘eggshell’ hand¬ 

made pottery, have been excavated at such sites 
as Sayala and Qustul (see ballana and qus- 
tul). The grave goods sometimes include 
stone vessels, amulets and copper artefacts 
imported from Egypt, which not only help to 
date these graves but also demonstrate that the 
A Group were engaged in regular trade with 
the Egyptians of the Predynastic and Early 
Dynastic periods. The wealth and quantity of 
imported items appears to increase in later A- 
Group graves, suggesting a steady growth in 
contact between the two cultures. The A 
Group was eventually replaced by the c group 
at some time during the old kingdom. See 
also B GROUP. 

H. A. Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-group sites 
(Stockholm, 1972), 17-32. 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa , 2nd ed. 
(London and Princeton, 1984), 118-32. 

H. S. Smith, ‘The development of the A-Group 
“culture” in northern Lower Nubia’, Egypt and 
Africa , ed. W. Y. Davies (London, 1991), 92-111. 
J. II. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, 1991), 

Aha (c.3100 bc:) 

One of the earliest lst-Dynasty rulers of a uni¬ 
fied Egypt, whose name means ‘the fighter’. 
His reign is attested primarily by funerary- 
remains at abydos, saqqaRA and naqada. 
When Flinders Petrie excavated at Umm el- 
Qa‘ab (the Early Dynastic cemetery at 
Abydos) in 1899-1900, he discovered Tomb 
B19/15, which contained objects bearing the 
name of Aha. Elowever, the earliest of the 1 st¬ 
and 2nd-Dynasty elite tombs at north SAQQARA 
(no. 3357), excavated in the 1930s, was also 
dated by jar-sealings to the reign of Aha. 
Although it was once thought that the Saqqara 
tomb was the burial-place of Aha (and the 
Abydos tomb only a cenotaph), scholarly opin¬ 
ion has shifted since the material from the two 
sites was re-examined in the 1960s, leading 
to the suggestion that Aha was buried in 
Tomb B19/15 at Abydos and that the Saqqara 
tomb belonged to a Memphite high official. 
New research conducted in the Umm 
el-Qa‘ab cemetery during the 1980s and 1990s 
(including the re-excavation of Tomb B19/15) 
also suggests that Aha was preceded by a rela¬ 
tively long sequence of earlier rulers of a 
united Egypt. 

There is still considerable debate surround¬ 
ing the possible links between Aha, narmer 
and MENES (the semi-mythical founder of 
Memphis), although two discoveries arc partic¬ 
ularly relevant to this problem. First, an ivory 
label, found in the tomb of Neithhotep (prob¬ 
ably Aha’s wife) in the late Predynastic ceme¬ 
tery at naqada, appears to give one of Aha’s 




names as ‘Men’, which has led some scholars 
to suggest that he and Menes were the same 
person, or at least closely related. With regard 
to the place of Narmer in the chronological 
sequence, a seal impression discovered at 
Umm el-Qa‘ab in 1985 appears to put him 
securely at the beginning of the 1st Dynasty, 
since it lists the first six rulers in the following 
order: Narmer, Aha, djer, djet, den and 
Merneith (the latter being a female ruler who 
may have been a regent). On the basis of these 
two pieces of evidence it is therefore possible 
that Narmer and Aha were father and son and 
that one of the two was also called Menes. 

A. H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford, 
1961), 405-14. 

B. J. Kemp, ‘The Egyptian 1st Dynasty royal 
cemetery’, Antiquity 41 (1967), 22-32. 

Ahhotep I (f. 1590—1530 bc) 

New Kingdom queen whose lifetime spanned 
the crucial transition from the Second 
Intermediate Period to the New Kingdom, 
when the hyksos rulers were expelled from 
Lower Egypt, ushering in a new era of stability 
and indigenous Egyptian rule. As the daughter 
of the 17th-Dynastv ruler Senakhtenra Taa I, 
the wife of seqenenra taa ii and mother of 
AHMOSE l (and arguably also of kamose), she 
appears to have played an important part in 
these wars of liberation. A stele erected by 
Ahmose i (1550-1525 bc) in the temple of 
Amun-Ra at karnak praises his mother’s 
heroism: ‘she is one who has accomplished the 
rites and cared for Egypt; she has looked after 
Egypt’s troops and she has guarded them; she 
has brought back the fugitives and collected 
together the deserters; she has pacified Upper 
Egypt and expelled her rebels’. It has been 
suggested that this unusually active military 
role played by a royal wife (see queen) might 
actually have been necessitated by the compar¬ 
atively young age at which Ahmose I came to 
the throne - Ahhotep I might thus have served 
as regent for a few years until he reached 
maturity. An inscription on a doorway at the 
Nubian fortress of buhen links the names of 
Ahmose I and his mother in such a way as to 
imply a coregency. 

It has also been suggested that Ahhotep may 
have looked after the internal rule of Upper 
Egypt while her son was engaged in military 
campaigns. Certainly the titles given to 
Ahhotep in the Karnak stele include nebet la 
(‘mistress of the land’), showing that she prob¬ 
ably wielded some power over a geographical 
area. The coffin of Ahhotep i was found in the 
royal cache at el-bahri. 

The intact burial of another Ahhotep (who 
was perhaps the wife of ramose) was discov¬ 

ered at Dra Abu el-Naga in western thebes in 
1859 by agents working for Auguste Mariette. 
Inside the tomb the excavators found a gilded 
wooden rishi-c offin containing the queen’s 
mummy. There were also numerous items of 
funerary equipment, including several elabo¬ 
rate ceremonial weapons of Ahmose i, a neck¬ 
lace consisting of large golden FLIES, which 
was traditionally awarded for valour in battle, 
two model gold and silver barks (one placed 
on a bronze and wooden cart), and various 
items of jewellery. 

F. W. von Bissing, Ein Thebanischer Grabfund aus 
dem Anfang des Neuen Reichs (Berlin, 1900). 

A. Macy Roth, ‘Ahhotep i and Ahhotep u\ 

Serapis 4 (1977-8), 31-40. 

C. Vandersleyen, ‘Les deux Ahhoteps 1 , SAK 8 
(1980), 233—42. 

M. Saleii and H. Sourouzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo: official catalogue (Mainz, 1987), 
cat. nos 120-6. 

N. Grlmal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 199-201. 

Ahmose i (Amosis) (1550-1525 bc) 

First ruler of the 18th Dynasty, who was the 
son of the Theban 17th-Dynasty ruler seqe¬ 
nenra taa u. He came to the throne of a 
reunited Egypt after he and his predecessor 
kamose had expelled the hyksos rulers from 
the Delta region. Recently excavated reliefs 
from abydos apparently depict Ahmose’s cam¬ 
paigns against the hyksos, which dominated 
his reign. The tombs of the soldiers Ahmose 
son of Ibana and Ahmose Pennekhbet at ELKAB 
are decorated with autobiographical inscrip¬ 
tions describing the role that they played in 
the campaigns of Ahmose l and his immediate 
successors. In western Asia he extended 
Egyptian influence deep into Syria-Palestine, 
and by the twenty-second year of his reign he 
may even have reached as far north as the 
Euphrates. He also undertook at least two 
campaigns into Nubia, establishing a new 
settlement at buhen as his administrative 
centre, under the command of a man called 
Turi who was to become the first known 
viceroy of kush in the reign of amenhotep i 
(1525-1504 bc). 

In his reorganization of the national and 
local government, which had probably 
remained relatively unchanged since the 
Middle Kingdom (see administration), 
Ahmose i appears to have rewarded those local 
princes who had supported the Theban cause 
during the Second Intermediate Period 
(1650-1550 bc). Although he is known to have 
reopened the Tura limestone quarries, little 
has survived of the construction of religious 
buildings during his reign, apart from a few 

Earliest known royal shabti and one of the few 
sculptures of Ahmose / to be securely identified as 
such by its inscription. The king is portrayed wearing 
a nemes headcloth and a uraeus. 18th Dynasty, 
c .1550 bc, limestone, H. 30 cm. (£.432191) 

additions to the temples of Amun and Montu 
at KARNAK and mud-brick cenotaphs for 
TETlSHERi and himself at abydos. 

The examination of his mummified body, 
which was among those transferred into the 
deir el-bahri cache in the 21st Dynasty, sug¬ 
gests that he was about thirty-five when he 
died. The location of his tomb is still not defi¬ 
nitely known, but he was probably buried at 


ahmose II 


Dra Abu el-Naga in western tiiebes, where the 
pyramidal tombs of his 17th-Dynasty prede¬ 
cessors were located. 

C. Vandersleyen, Lesguerres dAmosis, fond at etu¬ 
de la XVIII e dynastie (Brussels, 1971). 

C. Desroches-Noblecourt, ‘Le “bestiaire” 
symbolique du liberateur Ahmosis’, Festschrift W. 
Westendorf{G ottingen, 1984), 883-92. 

A. M. Dodson, ‘The tombs of the kings of the 
early Eighteenth Dynast}' at Thebes’, ZAS, 115 
(1988), 110-23. 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 193-202. 

Ahmose ll (Amasis, Amosis ii) (570-526 Be) 
Pharaoh of the late 26th Dynasty, who was 
originally a general in Nubia during the reign 
of psamtek ii (595-589 bc). He came to the 
throne following his defeat of apries (589-570 
bc) at the ‘Battle of Momcmphis’, which - 
according to a badly damaged stele - may actu¬ 
ally have taken place near Terana on the 
Canopic branch of the Nile. 

Ahmose n was proclaimed pharaoh by pop¬ 
ular demand when Apries was blamed for the 
defeat of his troops at the hands of Dorian 
GREEK settlers. According to the Greek histori¬ 
an Herodotus, Ahmose n captured Apries and 
initially held him at the palace in sais; he is 
later said to have allowed him to be strangled, 
although eventually he appears to have accord¬ 
ed him a full royal burial. 

Although Ahmose n found it necessary to 
continue to employ Greek mercenaries, he was 

Green schist head from a statue of a Late Period 
king , possibly Ahmose //. 26th Dynasty, c .550 bc, 
h. 38 cm. (ea497) 

more politically shrewd than his predecessor, 
presenting himself as nationalistic by limiting 
the activities of Greek merchants to the city of 
naukratis in the Delta, where they were 
granted special economic and commercial 
privileges (see trade). Later legend also has it 
that he married the daughter of Apries to the 
PERSIAN king in order to forestall Persian 
designs on Egypt, although this seems unlike¬ 
ly. By conquering parts of Cyprus he gained 
control of the Cypriot fleet, which he used to 
assist his allies in their struggles against the 
Persians. His friendly policy toward Greece 
included the financing of the rebuilding of the 
temple of Apollo at Delphi after its destruc¬ 
tion in 548 bc, an act that earned him the epi¬ 
thet ‘Philhellene’. 

He is described by Herodotus as a popular 
ruler of humble origins, who is said to have 
had such a strong inclination for drink that he 
delayed affairs of state in order to indulge in a 
drinking bout. At the end of his long and pros¬ 
perous reign he was succeeded by his son 
psamtek in (526-525 bc), whose rule was to be 
abruptly ended some six months later by the 
invasion of the new Persian ruler, Cambyses. 

Only a small number of sculptures repre¬ 
senting Ahmose ii have survived, and his name 
was apparently removed from many of his 
monuments by Cambyses. The buildings he 
constructed at sais, buto, Memphis and 
abydos have also been poorly preserved; 
although his tomb, located within the temple 
precincts at Sais, was ransacked in ancient 
times, a number of his SHABTIS have been 

Herodotus, The histories , trans. A. de Selincourt 
(Harmondsworth, 1972), n, 169-74. 

A. B. Lj.oyd, ‘The Late Period’, Ancient Egypt: a 
social history , B. G. Trigger et al. (Cambridge, 
1985), 285-6,294. 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 363—4. 

Ahmose Nefertari {c. 1570-1505 bc) 

Perhaps the most influential of the New 
Kingdom royal women, whose political and 
religious titles, like those of her grandmother 
tetisheri and mother ahhotep i, have helped 
to illuminate the various new political roles 
adopted by women in the early 18th Dynasty 
(see queens). Born in the early sixteenth cen¬ 
tury BC, she was described as mwt nesw (‘king’s 
mother’) in relation to her son amenhotep i 
and hemel nesw weret (‘king’s principal wife’) 
in relation to her brother and husband 
ahmose i. She was also the first royal woman to 
have the title hemet netjer (see god’s wtfe of 
amun) bestowed upon her, an act which was 
described in Ahmose i’s Stele of Donations in 

the temple of Amun at Karnak. This title was 
the one most frequently used by Ahmose 
Nefertari, and it was later passed on to several 
of her female descendants, including her own 
daughter Meritamun and Queen iiatshepsut 
(1473-1458 bc). It was once interpreted as an 
‘heiress’ epithet, marking out the woman 
whom the king must marry to legitimize his 
claim to the throne, but it is now considered to 
have been simply a priestly office relating to 
the cult of Amun (carrying with it entitlement 
to an agricultural estate and personnel), which 
was to acquire greater political importance 
during the Late Period. 

There is considerable textual evidence for 
Ahmose Nefertari’s involvement in the cult of 
Amun as well as her participation in the quar¬ 
rying and building projects undertaken by her 
husband. One stele even documents the fact 
that Ahmose i sought her approval before 
erecting a cenotaph for tetisheri at Abydos. 
She seems to have outlived him by a consider¬ 
able period, apparently serving as regent dur¬ 
ing the early years of Amenhotep i’s reign. An 
inscription of the first year of the reign of his 
successor, tiiutmose i, suggests that she was 
probably still alive even after the death of her 
son. She became the object of a posthumous 
religious cult, sometimes linked with that of 
Amenhotep I, particularly in connection with 
the workmen’s village at deir el-medina, 
which they were considered to have jointly 
founded. More than fifty of the Theban tombs 
of private individuals include inscriptions 
mentioning her name. 

M. Gitton, L'epouse du dieu Ahmes Nefertary , 
2nd ed. (Paris, 1981). 

—, Les divines epouses de la 18* dynastie (Paris, 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 
1993), 43-5. 

A Horizon see a group 


Earth-god whose cult can be traced back to the 
Early Dynastic period. He was most often rep¬ 
resented as a form of ‘double-sphinx’, consist¬ 
ing of two lions seated back to back, but he was 
also occasionally portrayed simply as a tract of 
land with lions’ heads or human heads at 
either side. The symbolism of Aker was close¬ 
ly associated with the junction of the eastern 
and western horizons in the underworld. 
Because the lions faced towards both sunrise 
and sunset, the god was closely associated with 
the journey of the sun through the under¬ 
world each night. The socket which holds the 
mast of the solar bark was therefore usually 
identified with Aker. 




ABOVE Detail from the Book of the Dead ofAni, 
showing lions representing the god Aker. 19th 
Dynasty, c. 1 250 bc, painted papyrus. (f.a10470) 

M. F. Bisson de la Roque, ‘Notes sur Aker’, 
BIFAO 30 (1930), 575-80. 

C. de Wit, Le role et le sens du lion (Leiden, 1951). 
E. Hornung, ‘Aker’, Lexikon der Agyptologie I, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1975), 114-15. 

J. R. Ogden, ‘Some notes on the name and the 
iconography of the god l kr\ VA 2 (1986), 



One of the five principal elements which the 
Egyptians considered necessary to make up a 
complete personality, the other four being the 
ka, ba, name and shadow. The akh was 
believed to be the form in which the blessed 
dead inhabited the underworld, and also the 
result of the successful reunion of the ha with 
its ka. Once the akh had been created by this 
reunion, it was regarded as enduring and 
unchanging for eternity. Although the physical 
form of the akh was usually portrayed as a 
SHABTi-like mummiform figure, the word akh 
was written with the sign of the so-called 
crested ibis ( Geronticus eremila). 

Detail of the coffin ofSeni, showing a hieroglyph 
representing the crested akh -bird. Middle Kingdom, 
c .2000 bc, painted wood, //. 15 cm. (f.a30841) 

G. Englund, Akh — une notion religieuse dans 
I'Egyptepharaonique (Uppsala, 1978). 

J. P. Allen, ‘Funerary texts and their meaning’, 
Mummies and magic, ed. R Lacovara, S. D’Auria, 
and C. H. Roehrig (Boston, 1988), 38-49. 

Akhenaten (Amenhotep iv) (1352-1336 bc) 
The infamous ‘heretic’ pharaoh, during whose 
reign the art and religion of Egypt were 
marked by rapid change. Born in the early 

fourteenth century bc, he was the son of 
amenhotep hi (1390-1352 bc) and Queen tiy. 
When he initially succeeded to the throne, 
probably some years before the death of his 
father (although there is still considerable 
debate as to whether there was any coregency 
between the two), he was known as 
Amenhotep iv. However, in the first year of his 
reign, he set the tone for a new era by estab¬ 
lishing a temple at karnak dedicated not to 
amun but to the god aten, the literal meaning 
of which was ‘the (sun) disc’. 

In his fifth regnal year Amenhotep iv made 
two crucial and iconoclastic decisions: he 
changed his name from Amenhotep (‘Amun is 
content’) to Akhenaten (‘glory of the sun- 
disc’) and he began to construct a new capital 
city called Akhetaten (‘horizon of the Aten’) at 
the site now known as el-amarna in Middle 
Egypt. This newly founded settlement was 
evidently intended to replace both THEBES and 
Memphis as the religious and secular focus of 
the country. The ensuing phase in Egyptian 
history, consisting of Akhenaten’s reign and 
that of his ephemeral successor Smenkhkara, 
is therefore described as the Amarna period. 

The major religious innovation of 
Akhenaten’s reign was the vigorous promotion 
of the worship of the ATEN to the exclusion of 




above Colossal statue of Akhenaten from Karnak. 

18th Dynasty, c. 1350 bc, sandstone, ft. 3.96 m. 
(cairo je5 593 8) 

the rest of the Egyptian gods, including even 
the state god amun. The reliefs and stelae in 
the temples and tombs of Akhenaten’s reign 
repeatedly show the royal family (Akhenaten, 
his wife nefertiti and the royal princesses) 
worshipping and making offerings to the Aten, 
which was depicted as a disc with arms out¬ 
stretched downwards, often proferring was 
sceptres and ankh signs, symbolizing power 
and life respectively. The names of other 
deities - especially that of Amun - were 
excised from temple walls in an apparent 
attempt to establish the Aten as a single 
supreme deity, which has led many scholars to 

attribute the introduction of monotheism to 
Akhenaten mistakenly. 

It has also been asserted, primarily on the 
basis of the evidence of the amarna letters 
(diplomatic correspondence between the 
Amarna pharaohs and their vassals in 
SYRIA-PALESTINE), that Akhenaten neglected 
foreign policy and allowed the Egyptian 
‘empire’ in western Asia, to be severely eroded. 
There is, however, a certain amount of evi¬ 
dence for Asiatic campaigning during his 
reign, and it is also possible that the iconogra¬ 
phy of the period was deliberately underplay¬ 
ing the view of the king as warrior. It should 
also be borne in mind that the view of foreign 
policy in other reigns during the New 
Kingdom tends to be automatically distorted 
in that it derives principally from Egyptian 
temple reliefs and papyri rather than from 
genuine diplomatic documents such as the 
Amarna Letters. 

After a sole reign of only about eighteen 
years, Akhenaten was succeeded first by an 
ephemeral figure called Smenkhkara (which 
may even have been a pseudonym for 
Nefertiti) and soon afterwards by 
Tutankhaten, who may have been a younger 
son of Amenhotep nr or a son of Akhenaten. 
Within a few years the city at el-Amarna had 
been abandoned in favour of the traditional 
administrative centre at Memphis, and the 
new king had changed his name to 
Tutankhamun, effectively signalling the end of 
the supremacy of the Aten. 

The final mystery of the ‘Amarna period’ is 
the disappearance of the bodies of Akhenaten 
and his immediate family. The royal tomb 
which Akhenaten had begun to build for him¬ 

self in a secluded wadi to the east of el- 
Amarna appears never to have been completed 
and there is little evidence to suggest that any¬ 
one other than Meketaten (one of Akhenaten’s 
daughters) was actually buried there. In 1907 
Theodore Davis discovered the body of a 
young male member of the royal family in 
Tomb 55 in the valley of the kings, appar¬ 
ently reinterred with a set of funerary equip¬ 
ment mainly belonging to Queen Tiy. This 
mummy was once identified as that of 
Akhenaten (a view still accepted by some 
Egyptologists) but most scholars now hypoth¬ 
esize that it may have been Smenkhkara. 

G. T. Martin, The royal tomb at el-Amarna , 

2 vols (London, 1974-89). 

D. B. Redford, Akhenaten the heretic king 
(Princeton, 1984). 

J. D. Ray, ‘Review of Redford, D. B., Akhenaten 
the heretic king\ GM 86 (1985), 81-3. 

C. Aldrko, Akhenaten: king of Egypt (London, 

Akhetaten see (tell) el-amarna 

Akhmim (anc. Ipu, Khent-Mim) 

Town-site on the east bank of the Nile oppo¬ 
site modern Sohag, which was the capital of 
the ninth Nome of Upper Egypt during the 
Pharaonic period (c. 3100-332 bc). The earliest 
surviving remains are Old and Middle 
Kingdom rock-tombs, which were severely 
plundered during the 1880s, much of the 

Coffin of the woman Tamin wearing daily dress , 
from the Roman-period cemetery at Akhmim. 2nd 
century ad, gilded and painted cartonnage and 
stucco, //. 1.5 m. (ea29586) 




funerary equipment subsequently being dis¬ 
persed among various collections. At around 
this time a large number of Late Period buri¬ 
als were unearthed. The tombs were first exca¬ 
vated by Percy Newberry in 1912 and more 
recently re-examined by Naguib Kanawati. 
The city originally included a number of tem¬ 
ples dedicated to min, the god of fertility, but 
few stone buildings have survived from the 
Dynastic period, owing to the widespread 
plundering of the site in the fourteenth centu¬ 
ry ad. Recent excavations by Egyptian archae¬ 
ologists, however, have uncovered colossal 
statues of rameses ii (1279-1213 bc) and 
Meritamun. The cemeteries of the Christian 
period (ad 395-641), which were excavated in 
the late nineteenth century, have yielded many 
examples of wool, linen and silk fabrics which 
have formed part of the basis for a chronolog¬ 
ical framework for the study of textiles 
between the Hellenistic and Islamic periods 
(r.300 bc-ad 700). 

P. E. Newberry, ‘The inscribed tombs of 
Ekhmim’, LAA4 4 (1912), 101-20. 

K. P. Kuhlmann, ‘Der Felstempel des Ejc bei 
Akhmim’, MDAIK15 (1979), 165-88. 

N. Kanawati, Rock tombs of el-Hawamish: the 
cemetery of Akhmim, 6 vols (Sydney, 1980—). 

S. McNally, ‘Survival of a city: excavations at 
Akhmim’, NARCE 116 (1981-2), 26-30. 

K. P. Kuhlmann, Materialen zur Archaologie und 
Geschichte des Raumes von Achmim (Mainz, 


E. J. Brovarski, ‘Akhmim in the Old Kingdom 
and First Intermediate Period’, Melanges Gamal 
Eddin Mokhtar , i (Cairo, 1985). 


Term used to denote a group of Semitic lan¬ 
guages that first appeared in northern 
Mesopotamia, in the third millennium bc, 
when the south of the country was still domi¬ 
nated by non-Semitic Sumerian speakers. By 
extension, the term is also used to refer to the 
material culture of northern Mesopotamia, 
particularly that of the dynasty founded by 
Sargon the Great (Sharrukin; 2334—2279 bc). 
The Akkadians adopted the Sumerians’ 
cuneiform writing system in order to write 
down their own language. They began gradu¬ 
ally to infiltrate sumer during its Early 
Dynastic period (r.3100—2686 bc). Such infil¬ 
tration can be seen from the Semitic names of 
scribes at the southern site of Abu Salabikh 
who wrote in Sumerian; it is likely that many 
people were bilingual even before the unifica¬ 
tion of Sumer with Akkad. Akkadian is divid¬ 
ed into Old Akkadian used in the third millen¬ 
nium and Assyrian and Babylonian in the sec¬ 
ond and first millennia and is related to Arabic 

and Hebrew. The Sumerian language, on the 
other hand, has no close relatives. 

Akkadian quickly became established as the 
lingua franca of the ancient Near East, and 
remained so over a long period, so that for 
example most of the amarna letters (diplo¬ 
matic correspondence between Egypt and the 
Levant in the mid-fourteenth century bc) are 
written in the Babylonian language, which is a 
late form of Akkadian. 

J. Oates, Babylon , 2nd ed. (London, 1986), 

G. Roux, Ancient Iraq , 3rd ed. (Harmondsworth, 
1992), 146-60. 

alabaster, Egyptian alabaster 

The terms ‘alabaster’ or ‘Egyptian alabaster’ 
have often been used by Egyptologists to refer 

Stone vesselfrom the tomb ofTutankhamun, 
inscribed with the cartouche ofThutmose hi and 
details of its capacity (14.5 hin or 6.67 litres), c.1450 
bc, travertine, //. 41.5 cm. ( Cairo, no. 410, 


to a type of white or translucent stone used in 
Egyptian statuary and architecture, which is a 
form of limestone (calcium carbonate) more 
accurately described as travertine. From the 
Early Dynastic period onwards travertine was 
increasingly used for the production of funer¬ 
ary vessels, as well as statuary and altars; it 
occurs principally in the area of Middle 
Egypt, the main Pharaonic source being hat- 
nub, about 18 km southeast of the New 
Kingdom city at el-Amarna. 

The use of the term alabaster is further 
complicated by the fact that the material often 
described by Egyptologists as ‘gypsum’, a 

form of calcium sulphate quarried principally 
at Umm el-Sawwan in the Fayum region, may 
be legitimately described as ‘alabaster’. 

J. A. Harrell, ‘Misuse of the term “alabaster” in 
Egyptology’, GM 119 (1990), 37-42. 

D. and R. Klemm, ‘Calcit-Alabaster oder 
Travertin? Bemcrkungen zu Sinn und Unsinn 
petrographischen Bezeichnungen in der 
Agyptologie’, GM 122 (1991), 57-70. 

alcoholic beverages 

Beer ( henket ), the most common of the 
alcoholic beverages, formed an important part 
of the Egyptian diet. This would be prepared 
in the household, or by brewers if it was for 
use in rations of state employees. The 
Egyptian process for making beer began with 
the preparation of partially baked cakes of bar¬ 
ley bread. They were placed on a screen over a 
vat or jar, and water was poured over them 
until they dissolved and drained into the vat, 
whereupon the resulting mixture was left in a 
warm place to ferment. It has been suggested 
that stale bread may have been used as a sub¬ 
stitute. Research by Del wen Samuel has chal¬ 
lenged this traditional view by suggesting that 
bread was not used. However barley, emmer, 
or a mixture of both, are evident in beer 
residues. Often a variety of flavourings were 
added to the brew, including dates, honey and 
spices. The sugar from dates or honeyed 
bread would also have speeded up the fermen¬ 
tation. The brew was not necessarily very alco¬ 
holic, but had a high nutritional value, and was 
therefore an important part of the Egyptian 
diet (see food). In the first century bc 
Diodorus Siculus praised the quality of 
Egyptian beer, describing it as barely inferior 
to wine. 

Both red and white wine (irep) were regu¬ 
larly drunk and there are many tomb-paint¬ 
ings showing grapes being harvested and 
pressed, notably those in the tomb of Nakht at 
Thebes (tt52). The juice was collected in vats 
for fermentation, and when part-fermented 
was decanted into amphorae and left to 
mature, sometimes for several years. It then 
might be filtered again and have spices or 
honey added before finally being transported 
in amphorae. These vessels are frequently 
inscribed on the shoulder or have stamps 
impressed on the mud sealings. Often the 
inscription lists the king’s regnal year, the vari¬ 
ety of wine, its vineyard, its owner and the 
person responsible for production. In effect 
this served the same purpose as modern wine 
labels and as a result the locations of certain 
vineyards are known. The Delta, the western 
part of the coast, the Oases of kharga and 
dakhla and the Kynopolis area of Middle 


alcoholic beverages 


above Copy of a wine-making scene in the Theban 
tomb of Khaemwaset (tt 261 ). New Kingdom. 

Ritual vase for Wine of Lower Egypt for the 
deceased lady Nodjmet ’. 18th Dynasty, H. 79 cm. 

Egypt seem to have been especially favoured. 
Wines might also be imported from 
Syria—Palestine and, later, Greece, and there 
were a number of fruit wines made from dates, 
figs and pomegranates. 

Alcohol was often taken in excess, and a 
number of private tombs, such as that of 
Djeserkaraseneb (tt38), are decorated with 
scenes showing guests exhibiting signs of 
nausea during banquets. In the depiction of a 
banquet in the tomb of Pahcri at elkab, a 
female guest says, ‘Give me eighteen cups of 
wine, for I wish to drink until drunkenness, 
my inside is like straw’. Such drunkenness was 
regarded as indicative of the abundance of the 
feast and therefore to be encouraged. 

The best-known mythical instance of 
drunkenness was the intoxication of sekhmet 
the lioness-goddess in The Destruction of 
Mankind, while the Greek historian 
Herodotus recorded that the festival of 
bastet the cat-goddess was renowned for its 

H. Wilson, Egyptian food and drink (Aylesbury, 

J. Geller, ‘From prehistory to history: beer in 
Egypt’, The followers of Horus, ed. F. Friedman 
and B. Adams (Oxford, 1992), 19-26. 

E. Strouiial, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 104-5,127-8,225. 

Alexander the Great (352-323 bc) 

In 332 bc the second Persian occupation of 
Egypt ended with the arrival of the armies of 
Alexander the Great. Born in Macedonia in 
352 bc, Alexander had already conquered 
much of western Asia and the Levant before 
his arrival in Egypt, which appears to have 
been closer to a triumphal procession than an 
invasion. It was in keeping with this sense of 

renewal rather than invasion that Alexander 
immediately made sacrifices to the gods at 
Memphis and visited SIWA oasis in the Libyan 
Desert, where the oracle of amun-ra officially 
recognized him as the god’s son, thus appar- 

Silver coin bearing the head of Alexander the 
Great, c .330 bc, o. 2.7 cm. (cm3971e) 

ently restoring the true pharaonic line. In a 
later attempt to bolster his claims to the royal 
succession, it was suggested, somewhat 
implausibly, in the Alexander Romance , that he 
was not the son of Philip ti of Macedonia but 
the result of a liaison between his mother 
Olympias and nectanebo ii (360-343 bc), the 
last native Egyptian pharaoh. 

In 331 bc, having founded the city of 
ALEXANDRIA, Alexander left Egypt to continue 
his conquest of the Achaemenid empire (see 
Persia), leaving the country in the control of 
two Greek officials: Kleomenes of Naukratis, 
who was empowered to collect taxes from the 
newly appointed local governors, and ptole- 
my, son of Lagos, one of his generals, com¬ 
mander of the Egyptian army. Although cer¬ 
tain monuments, such as the inner chapel of 
the temple of Amun at luxor, bear depictions 
of Alexander firmly establishing him as 




pharaoh, he must have had little opportunity to 
make any personal impact on the Egyptian 
political and economic structure, and it 
appears that, for a decade or so after his depar¬ 
ture, the country suffered from a lack of strong 
leadership. In 323 bc, however, he died of a 
fever and although attempts were made on 
behalf of his half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus 
(323-317 bc) and his son Alexander iv (317— 
310 bc) to hold the newly acquired empire 
together, it eventually dissolved into a number 
of separate kingdoms ruled by his generals 
and their descendants. In Egypt Ptolemy at 
first functioned as a general alongside the 
viceroy Kleomenes, but eventually he became 
the first Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt after the 
death of Alexander iv, in 305 bc. It was 
Ptolemy i (305-285 bc) who was said to have 
placed the body of Alexander the Great in a 
golden coffin at Alexandria. His tomb was 
probably in the Soma (royal mausoleum), tra¬ 
ditionally located under the Mosque of Nebi 
Daniel in central Alexandria, but so far it has 
not been found. 

W. W. Tarn, Alexander the Great , 2 vols 
(Cambridge, 1948). 

A. Burn, Alexander the Great and the Middle 
East , 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth, 1973). 

N. G. L. Hammond, Alexander the Great: King, 
Commander and Statesman, 3rd ed. (Bristol, 1989). 

Alexandria (anc. Raqote) 

Greco-Roman city situated on a narrow penin¬ 
sula at the western end of the Mediterranean 
coast of Egypt. It was founded by Alexander 
the Great on the site of an earlier Egyptian 
settlement called Raqote, archaeological traces 
of which have so far been found only in the 
form of the pre-Ptolemaic seawalls to the 
north and west of the island of Pharos. 
Alexander is said to have entrusted the design 
of the city to the architect Deinokrates and the 
official Kleomenes, but the principal buildings 
were not completed until the reign of Ptolemy 
n Philadelphus (285-246 bc). 

During the Ptolemaic and Roman periods 
(c .332 bc-ad 395) Alexandria was a thriving 
cosmopolitan city; by 320 bc it had replaced 
Memphis as the capital of Egypt and by the 
mid-first century bc. it had a population of 
about half a million, including substantial num¬ 
bers of Greeks and Jews. With its gridded street 
plan, it was essentially a Greek rather than an 
Egyptian city, and its identity was so strong that 
it was known as Alexandrea ad Aegyptum: 
Alexandria ‘beside’ Egypt rather than within it, 
as if it were a separate country in its own right. 
In the late first century ad the Roman orator 
Dio of Prusa even went so far as to describe 
Egypt as a mere appendage to Alexandria. 

The most famous ancient buildings at 
Alexandria were the Library and Museum, 
which are supposed to have been burned 
down, along with an irreplaceable collection of 
papyri, in the third century AD. The major 
monuments of the Ptolemaic and Roman peri¬ 
ods were the serapeum (a temple dedicated to 

above View of the underground chambers of Kom 
el-Shugafa, Alexandria. lst-2nd centuries AD. 

LEFT Schist head from a statue oj a young man, 
showing a combination of Greek and Egyptian 
sculptural traits, from Alexandria, c.lst century 
bc, h. 24.5 cm. ( ra55253) 

the god serapis, which may have housed part 
of the library collection), the Caesarium, a 
Roman stadium and Kom el-Shugafa (a 
labyrinth of rock-cut tombs dating to the first 
two centuries ad). The Alexandrian ‘pharos’, 
constructed in the early Ptolemaic period on 
the islet of Pharos about 1.5 km off the coast, 
was probably the earliest known lighthouse, 
but unfortunately virtually nothing has sur¬ 
vived. Excavations at Kom el-Dikka, near the 
Mosque of Nebi Daniel, have revealed the 
remains of the central city during the Roman 
period, including a small theatre, baths, a 
gymnasium complex and a possible school¬ 
room. Apart from the fortress of Qait Bey on 
the Pharos peninsula, which may incorporate a 
few stray blocks from the ancient lighthouse, 
there are few surviving Islamic monuments at 

The archaeological exploration of the city has 




been complieated by the fact that antiquities 
from all over Egypt were gathered together in 
Alexandria either to adorn new temples or in 
preparation for their transportation to other 
parts of the Roman and Byzantine empires. Both 
Cleopatra’s Needle (now on the Embankment in 
London) and the Central Park obelisk in New 
York once stood in the Caesarium, having been 
brought there from tjiltmose iij’s temple to Ra- 
Atum at Heliopolis. 

Little excavation has taken place in the 
ancient town itself, which lies directly below 
the modern city centre, but parts of the road 
leading from the river port to the sea-harbour 
were examined in 1874. One of the most strik¬ 
ing surviving monuments is Pompey’s Pillar, a 
granite column which was actually erected by 
the Roman emperor Diocletian in gad 297, 
close to the site of the Serapeum. 

E. Breccia, Alexandrea ad Aegyptum, Eng. trans. 
(Bergamo, 1922). 

E. M. Forster, Alexandria: a history and guide 
(London, 1922). 

P. M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria, 3 vols 
(Oxford, 1972). 

H. Kolotaj, ‘Rccherches architectoniques dans 
les thermes ct le theatre dc Korn cl-Dikka a 
Alexandrie’, Das rbmisch-byzantinische A gyp ten, 
ed. G. Grimm etal. (Trier, 1983), 187-94. 

A. K. Bowman, Egypt after the pharaohs 
(London, 1986), 204-33. 

L. Cam ora, The vanished library , trans. M. Ryle 
(London, 1989). 


In the temples of ancient Egypt, the altar 
(khal) was used to carry offerings intended to 
propitiate deities or the deceased. The traver¬ 
tine (‘Egyptian alabaster’) altar in the sun tem¬ 
ple of Nyuserra (2445-2421 ik;) at Abu Gurab 
is one of the most impressive surviving exam¬ 
ples. It consists of a huge monolithic circular 
slab surrounded by four other pieces of traver¬ 
tine, each carved in the form of a helep (‘offer¬ 
ing’) sign. In the temple of amun at earn \k a 
pink granite altar in the form of a helep sign 
(now r in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo) was 
erected byThutmose m (1479-1425 fie) in the 
‘Middle Kingdom court’. Relief scenes carved 
on the front of this altar show two kneeling 
figures ol the king presenting offerings to 

In the New r Kingdom (1550—1069 uc) many 
large-scale stone temple altars were provided 
with ramps or sets of steps. A massive lime¬ 
stone altar dedicated to Ra-Horakhty, still in 
situ on the upper terrace of the temple of 
Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, was furnished 
with a flight of ten steps on its western side. 
The Great Temple of the Aten at el-Amarna is 

known to have included a large central altar 
approached by a ramp, as w ell as courtyards 
full of hundreds of stone offering tables. 

From the Late Period (747-332 bc) 
onwards, Egypt began to be more influenced 
by Hellenistic and Syrian forms of worship 

Amara West, perhaps initially set up as a 
base for gold-mining and trading expeditions 
further to the south, appears to have taken 
over from the town of SOLEB as the seat of the 
Deputy of Kush (Upper Nubia). The site 
included a stone-built temple of the time of 

The great travertine altar at the sun temple of 
King Nyuserra at Abu Gurab. Around the circular 
central part of the altar are arranged Jour hetep 
(offering) signs, (p. T. MCJIOLSOn) 

and the ‘horned altar’, consisting of a stone or 
brick-built block with raised corners, was 
introduced from Syria-Palestine. Such an 
altar w r as erected in front of the early 
Ptolemaic tomb of petosiris, a chief priest of 
Thoth, at Tuna el-Gebel. See also offering 

G. Jequier, ‘Autel’, BIFAO 19 (1922), 236-49. 

1. Shaw, ‘Balustrades, stairs and altars in the cult 
of the Aten at el-Amarna’,7£^ 80 (1994), 109-27. 

Plan of the site of Amara West. 


The remains of two Nubian towns ( Amara West 
and East) are located about 180 km south of 
Wadi I Ialfa on either side of the Nile. The walled 
settlement of Amara West, occupying an area of 
about 60,000 sq. m, was a colonial establishment 
founded by the Egyptians in the Ramesside peri¬ 
od (g 1295—1069 uc), when most of Nubia was 
effectively regarded as part of Egypt. At Amara 
East there w as once a tow n and temple dating to 
the Meroitic (see merge) period (g300 uc- 
ad 350), but only the depleted remains of the 
enclosure wall are still visible at the site. 

Ramcses u, as well as cemeteries, some con¬ 
temporary with the town and others dating to 
the baelan \ period (gad 400-543). 

L. Kirvvan, ‘Notes and news’, JEA 22 (1936), 
101 - 2 . 

II. W., ‘Preliminary excavation reports 
on Amara West \JEA 24, 25, 34 (1938, 1939, 

B. J. Kemp, ‘Fortified towns in Nubia’, Man, 
settlement and urbanism , ed. P. Ucko et al. 
(London, 1972), 651-6. 

P. A. Spencer, Amara West (London, 1997). 




Amarna, (Tell) el- (anc. Akhetatcn) 

Site of a city, located about 280 km south of 
Cairo, founded by the pharaoh Akhenaten 
(1352-1336 bc). Abruptly abandoned follow¬ 
ing Akhenaten’s death, after an occupation of 
only about twenty-five to thirty years, el- 
Amarna is the best-preserved example of an 
Egyptian settlement of the New Kingdom, 
including temples, palaces and large areas of 
mud-brick private housing. There are also two 
groups of rock-tombs (largely unfinished) at 
the northern and southern ends of the semi¬ 
circular bay of cliffs to the east of the city; 
these were built for the high officials of the 
city, such as the priest Panehsy and chief of 
police Mahu. The plundered and vandalized 
remains of the royal tombs of Akhenaten and 
his family, several kilometres to the east of the 
cliffs, were rediscovered in the late 1880s. 

Unfortunately, because of the peculiarities 
of the site’s historical background, the city of 
Akhetatcn is unlikely to have been typical of 
Egyptian cities; nevertheless it presents an 
invaluable opportunity to study the patterning 
of urban life in Egypt during the fourteenth 
century bc:. It was founded in about 1350 bc 
and abandoned about twenty years later; the 
dearth of subsequent settlement has ensured 
remarkable preservation of the city plan. The 
site as a whole is contained within a semi¬ 
circular bay of cliffs approximately 10 km long 
and a maximum of 5 km wide; the city itself 
stretches for about 7 km along the eastern 
bank of the Nile. The total population of the 
main city at el-Amarna has been estimated at 
between twenty thousand and fifty thousand. 

Much of the western side of the city, 
including houses, harbours and the main 
palace of the king, has now vanished under the 
modern cultivation. However, a large number 
of structures have been preserved in the desert 
to the east, along with the wells, grain-silos, 
bakeries and refuse dumps that comprise the 
basic framework of production and consump¬ 
tion throughout die community. The nucleus 
of the city, the main components of which are 
described in contemporary inscriptions at the 
site, was a set of official buildings - principal¬ 
ly temples, palaces and magazines - called the 
‘Island of Aten Distinguished in Jubilees’. 

The three main residential zones of the city 
(the so-called north suburb, south suburb and 
north city) are characterized by a much more 
haphazard layout than the carefully planned 
central city; the manner in which they devel¬ 
oped, with the spaces between the earliest 
large houses gradually being filled up with 
smaller clusters of houses, is usually described 
as ‘organic’. There are also three small areas of 
planned settlement at el-Amarna: a block of 

Plan of the city of Akhetatcn at el-Amarna. 

terraced buildings in the centre of the city 
(known as the ‘clerks’ houses’), a rectangular 
walled settlement located in relative isolation, 
more than a kilometre to the east of the main 
city (the ‘workmen’s village’) and an area of 
drystone temporary accommodation situated 
about halfway between the latter and the cliffs 
(the ‘stone village’). 

Over the last hundred years the site has 
been examined by a succession of excavators, 
including Flinders Petrie, Howard Carter and 
Leonard Woolley. Since the late 1970s an 
expedition from the Egypt Exploration 

Society has produced the first detailed survey 
plan of the entire site, as well as excavating and 
re-examining a number of parts of the city, 
including the workmen’s village, the small 
Aten temple and the newly identified Amarna- 
period temple of Kom el-Nana. 

W. M. F. Petrie, Tel! el-Amarna (London, 1894). 
N. de G. Davies, The rock tombs of ElAmarna , 

6 vols (London, 1903-8). 

T. E. Peet et al, The city of Akhenaten, 3 vols 
(London, 1923-51). 

G. T. Martin, The royal tomb at el-Amarna , 

2 vols (London, 1974-89). 

L. Borciiardt and II. Ricke, Die Wohnhduser in 
Tell el-Amarna (Berlin, 1980). 


amarna letters 


Fragment of painted pavement from a building 
called the Maru-Aten at el-Amarna, showing ducks 
flying out of a papyrus thicket. 18th Dynasty, 
c.1350 uc, painted plaster, f t. 93 cm. (ea55617) 

B. J. Kemp (ed.), Amarna reports I—vi (London, 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 261-317. 

Amarna Letters 

Important cache of documents from EL- 
AMArna, discovered in 1887 by a village 
woman digging ancient mud-brick for use 
as fertilizer (Arabic sebakh ). This discovery 
led to further illicit diggings and the 
appearance of a number of clay CUNEIFORM 
tablets on the antiquities market. Their 
importance was not immediately recog¬ 
nized, and many passed into private hands, 
but Wallis Budge of the British Museum 
believed the tablets to be genuine and pur¬ 
chased a number of them; his view was con¬ 
firmed by A. H. Sayce. The tablets are held 
by the British Museum, the Bodemuseum 

in Berlin, the Louvre, and the Egyptian 
Museum in Cairo. 

There are 382 known tablets, most of which 
derive from the ‘Place of the Letters of 
Pharaoh’, a building identified as the official 
‘records office’ in the central city at el- 
Amarna. Their exact chronology is still debat¬ 
ed, but they span a fifteen-to-thirty-year peri¬ 
od (depending upon interpretations of co¬ 
regencies at this time), beginning around year 
thirty of ameniiotep hi (1390-1352 bc) and 
extending no later than the first year of 
tutankiiamun’s reign (1336-1327 bc), with 
the majority dating to the time of AKHENATEN 
(1352-1336 bc). Most are written in a dialect 
of the akkadian language, which was the lin¬ 
gua franca of the time, although the languages 
of the ASSYRIANS, HITTTTES and Hurrians 
(mitanni) are also represented. 

All but thirty-two of the documents in the 
archive are items of diplomatic correspon¬ 
dence between Egypt and either the great 
powers in western Asia, such as Babylonia 
and Assyria, or the vassal states of Syria and 
Palestine. They provide a fascinating picture 

of the relationship between Egypt and these 
states, although there are very few T letters from 
the Egyptian ruler. The state of the empire 
under Akhenaten is poignantly documented 
in the increasingly desperate pleas for assis¬ 
tance from Svro-Palestinian cities under 
siege. As well as giving insights into the polit¬ 
ical conditions of the time, the letters also 
shed light on trade relations, diplomatic 
MARRIAGE and the values of particular com- 

Tablet from el-Amarna, inscribed with a cuneiform 
letter from Tushratta of Mitanni to Amenhotep lit. 
18th Dynasty, c. 1354 bc, clay, H. 9 cm. (wa29793) 

modifies such as glass, gold and the newly 
introduced iron, while the various forms of 
address employed in the letters indicate the 
standing of the w riters vis-a-vis the Egyptian 

C. Ai.dri.d, Akhenaten, King of Egypt (London, 
1988), 183-94. 

E. F. Campbell, The chronology of the Amarna 
Letters (Baltimore, 1964). 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 223-5. 

W. L. MORAN, The Amarna Letters (London, 1992). 

Amasis see ahmose ii 

Amenemhat (Ammenemcs) 

Four of the 12th-Dynastv pharaohs held the 
‘birth name’ Amenemhat (‘Amun is at the 
head’), while the rest, apart from Queen, took the name of senusret. 

Amenemhat i Sehetepibra (1985-1955 bc) 
was the son of a priest called Senusret and a 
woman called Nofret. He was the first ruler of 
the 12th Dynasty, but he is probably already 
attested at the end of the 11 th Dynasty, when, 




as the vizier of mentuhotep iv (1992-1985 
BC), he led an expedition along the Wadi 
Hammamat to the Red Sea. 

His Horus name, Wehem-mesut (‘he who 
repeats births’), was no doubt chosen to cele¬ 
brate the inauguration of the new dynasty. It is 
possible that the literary work known as The 
Discourse of Neferty, in which the emergence 
of a ruler called Ameny is supposed to have 
been foretold by a prophet in the Old 
Kingdom, was composed partly in order to 
legitimize his accession. He moved the royal 
residence to the newly established town of 
Amenemhatitjtawy, in the vicinity of f.i -i.isht, 
thus shifting the focus of the country north¬ 
wards. 1 Ie also reorganized the administra¬ 
tion, ensuring that provincial power was in 
the hands of his supporters, appointing new 
governors at Asvut, Cusae and Elephantine 
and reintroducing conscription into the army. 
He founded a new fortress at Semna in the 
region of the second Nile cataract, thus creat¬ 
ing the first of a string of 12th-Dynasty 
fortresses which probably gave the Egyptians a 
stranglehold over economic contacts with 
Upper Nubia and the countries further south 
in Africa. 

He may also have introduced the practice of 
coregency by allowing his successor to rule 
alongside him for the last few years of his 
reign, thus helping to ensure a smooth transi¬ 
tion from one ruler to the next. Since he him¬ 
self appears to have been assassinated as a 
result of a uarim conspiracy, this precaution 
proved to be fully justified, and he was suc¬ 
ceeded by his son Senusret i (1965—1920 bc), 
who had already been effectively in charge of 
foreign policy. The political and social reper¬ 
cussions of this traumatic end to his reign 
were reflected in two new literary works: The 
Tale of Sinuhe and The Instruction of 
Amenemhal / (the latter being the source of the 
assassination story). Amenemhat’s funerary 
complex at i.i.-i.isiit reintroduced the Old 
Kingdom pyramid-style royal tomb. 

Amenemhat it Nuhkaur a (1922-1878 bc) 
succeeded to the throne after a two-year co¬ 
regency with his father Senusret i, who had 
already consolidated Egyptian control over 
Nubia w ith the establishment of several fur¬ 
ther fortresses. Amenemhat n’s reign was 
therefore relatively peaceful, and it is to his 
reign that the tod ‘treasure’ dates: the variety 
of trade items or ‘tribute’ represented in 
this hoard suggests that contacts with west¬ 
ern Asia and the Mediterranean world were 
flourishing. The discovery of statuary of 
Amenemhat’s daughters and officials at a 
number of sites in Svria-Palestine also indi¬ 
cates that Egyptian influence in the Levant 

was continuing to grow. The pyramid com¬ 
plex of Amenemhat u at DAHSHUR included a 
mortuary temple and causeway, excavated by 
de Morgan in 1894-5, but the valley temple 
has not yet been discovered. 

Amenemhat lit Nimaatra (1855-1808 bc) 
was the son of Senusret in and the sixth ruler 
of the 12th Dynasty. His reign evidently rep¬ 
resented the most prosperous, phase of the 
dynasty, w ith the military achievements of his 
predecessors allowing him to exploit the eco- 

Granite head of Amenemhat in, bearing a usurping 
inscription of the 22ncl Dynasty. Late 12th Dynasty, 
c.i820 ttc,from Bubastis, it. 79 cm. (e iI063) 

nomic resources of Nubia and Syria-Palestine 
as well as the mineral deposits of the Sinai and 
Eastern Desert. He is particularly associated 
with the economic and political rise of the 
Fayum region, where he completed a large- 
scale irrigation project inaugurated by his 
father. His surviving monuments in the area 
include two colossal granite statues of himself 
at Biahmu, temples to sober and rknenutet at 
Kiman Fares (Medinet el-Fayum) and 
MEDINET MAADl respectively, and two pyramid 
complexes. Like his father and grandfather, he 
was buried in a pyramid complex at Dahshur, 
where the mud-brick pyramid has been 
stripped of its limestone outer casing, but the 
black granite pyramidion, inscribed with his 
name, has survived. His second complex, at 
hawara, included the multi-roomed mortuary 
temple known to Classical authors as the 

Amenemhat tv Maakherura (1808-1799 bc) 
was the son of Amenemhat ill and the last male 
ruler of the 12th Dynasty. He completed his 
father’s temples at Medinet Maadi and proba¬ 
bly also built the unusual temple at Qasr el- 
Sagha in the northeastern Fayum, but his 
reign was otherwise short and comparatively 

uneventful, perhaps representing the begin¬ 
ning of the decline of the Middle Kingdom. 
His pyramid complex was possibly the south¬ 
ern monument at Mazghuna, about 5 km to 
the south of those at Dahshur. 

G. Posknkr, Litterature el politii/ue dans EEgypt e 
de la XIE dynastic (Paris, 1969). 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 158-81. 

Amenhotep (Amenophis) 

‘Birth name’ (or nomen), meaning ‘Amun is 
content’, which was included in the ROYAL TIT¬ 
ULARY of four 18th-Dynasty rulers. 

Amenhotep t Djeserkara (1525—1504 bc) w-as 
the son of ahmose i and ahmose nefertari, 
and the second pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. 
He appears to have pacified Nubia, established 
a temple at the Nubian town of Sai and 
appointed Turi as viceroy of rush. He was 
probably still very young when he came to the 
throne, so it is likely that his mother served as 
regent for the first part of his reign. They are 
jointly credited with the foundation of the 
royal tomb-workers’ village at deir ei -Medina, 
where they consequently enjoyed personal 
religious cults until the late Ramesside period. 
His burial-place remains unidentified, 
although his tomb is mentioned in an official 
inspection list of the sixteenth year of Rameses 
ix’s reign (c. 1111 bc). He is known to have 
been the first pharaoh to build a separate mor¬ 
tuary temple (or ‘mansion of millions of 
years’) at deir ei.-baiiri, some distance away 
from the tomb itself. However, his mortuary 
chapel was later obliterated by the temple of 
iLvrsi iepsut, and it is not clear whether he was 
buried at Dra Abu el-Naga (see thebes), 
alongside his 17th-Dynastv ancestors, or in an 
unrecognized tomb in the valley of the 
rings (perhaps the uninscribcd Tomb kv39, 
although work in the 1990s suggests other¬ 
wise). His body, on the other hand, has sur¬ 
vived, having been reburied in a cache at deir 
el-bai ire It still has an excellent cartonnagi. 
face-mask and had been rewrapped by the 
priests who moved it in the 21st Dynasty; it is 
the only royal mummy that has not been 
unwrapped in modern times. 

Amenhotep ft Aakheperura (1427-1400 bc) 
was the seventh ruler of the 18th Dynasty and 
coregent and successor to his father, ti-iut- 
mose in (1479-1425 bc). He was born at Mem¬ 
phis, his mother being Queen Meritra- 
Hatshepsut. The surviving reliefs and texts 
give the impression that he prided himself on 
his physical prowess, although it is equally 
possible that a new heroic image of the king¬ 
ship was simply being adopted. Emulating the 
military successes of his father, he undertook 




three campaigns into SYRIA, but no military 
activity seems to have been considered neces¬ 
sary in Nubia, where he appointed Usersatct 
as viceroy OF KUSH and ordered various pro¬ 
jects of temple construction and decoration at 
Amada and kalabsha. He built a number of 
shrines and temples in the region of TIIEBES, 
including structures at karnak, medamud and 
TOD. Little has survived of his mortuary tem¬ 
ple at Thebes, but he was buried in Tomb ky 35 

Stele from a household shrine at el-Amarna , 
showing Amenhotep ill with his principal wife Tiy 
beside a table of offerings under the rays of the Aten. 
18th Dynasty , c .1350bc, n. 30.5 cm. ( f.a53799) 

in the Valley of the Kings. The decoration of 
this tomb, although unfinished, included a 
complete version of the book of Amdual (see 
funerary texts). When it was excavated by 
Victor Loret in 1898 it was found to contain 
not only Amenhotep li’s mummy (still in his 
sarcophagus) but the bodies of eight other 
pharaohs (Thutmose iv, Amenhotep m, 
merenptaii, sety ii, Saptah, rameses iv, v and 
vi), three women (one of whom may be Queen 
tiy) and a young boy. These mummies were all 
brought to Amenhotep it’s tomb, on the orders 
of Pinudjcm (one of the chief priests of Amun 
at Thebes in the 21st Dynasty), in order to 
preserve them from the depredations of tomb- 

Amenhotep in Nebmaatra (1390—1352 bc) 
was the son and successor of Thutmose iv 
(1400-1390 bc), his mother being 
Mutemwiva. He seems to have taken little 
interest in military affairs and, apart from 
quelling an uprising in Nubia in his fifth reg¬ 
nal year, he was content to maintain the order 
established by his predecessors. This policy 
w as not altogether successful and during his 
long reign it is possible that some of the vassal 

states of Syria-Palcstine began to break away 
from Egypt, paving the way for the ihttites’ 
expansion into the Levant during the last 
reigns of the 18th Dynasty. Some of his for¬ 
eign correspondence has survived in the form 

The time of Amenhotep m is marked by the 
apparent opulence of the royal court and the 
high standard of artistic and architectural 
achievements, earning him the modern epithet 
‘the magnificent 1 . The high artistic skill of the 
time is exhibited in the tombs of such high 
officials as ramose (tt55) and Khaemhet 
(te57). His principal architect, amenhotep 
SON of iiapu, was responsible for the construc¬ 
tion of the processional colonnade at LUXOR 
temple, the third pylon at karnak, the mortu¬ 
ary temple (the site of which is marked bv the 
COLOSSI OF MEMNON) and his palace at 
MALKATA on the Theban west bank. 

Some of the art of his reign shows the natu¬ 
ralistic, informal attitudes characteristic of the 
Amarna period, and it seems likely that he 
chose the ATEN as his personal god, whilst still 
honouring the other gods, thus anticipating 
(and presumably cultivating) the eventual reli¬ 
gious revolution of his son, Amenhotep i\ 
(akiienaten; 1352-1336 bc), whom he may 
have appointed as coregent towards the end of 
his reign, although this remains controversial. 
His eldest son, and the original heir to the 
throne, was Thutmose, who died young. It has 
been suggested that Amenhotep in may also 
have been the father of Smenkhkara, 
TUTANKHAMEN and Princess Baketaten, but 
the evidence for these links is tenuous. Tt has 
been suggested that his body may have been 
one of those reburied among a cache of royal 
mummies in the tomb of Amenhotep u (sec 
above), although thus identification has been 
disputed by some authorities. The body in 
question is that of a man who suffered from ill 
health and obesity towards the end of his life. 
Amenophis ill’s tomb (ky22) was located in the 
valley to the west of the main Valley of the 
Kings. It was decorated with scenes from the 
book of Amdual and when excavated by 
Howard Carter it still contained about fifty 
small fragments of the lid of the red granite 
sarcophagus in the burial chamber. 

Amenhotep n see akiienaten. 

H. E. Winlock, A restoration of the reliefs from 
the mortuary temple of Amenhotep I \JEA 4 
(1917), 11-15. 

A. Lansing: ‘Excavations at the palace of 
Amenhotep m at Thebes’, BMMA 13 (March 
1926), 8-14. 

J. Cerny, ‘Le culte d’Amenophis Ier chez les 
ouvriers de la nccropolc thebainc’, BIFA021 
(1927), 159-203. 

B. Van de Wallk, ‘Les rois sportifs de 1’ancienne 
Egypte’, CdE 13 (1938), 234-57. 

W. C. Hayes, ‘Egypt: internal affairs from 
Tuthmosis i to the death of Amenophis in’, 
Cambridge Ancient History , ed. I. E. S. Edwards 
et al., 3rd ed. (Cambridge, 1973), 313-416. 

A. Kozloff and B. Bryan, Egypt's dazzling sun: 
Amenhotep ill and his world, exh. cat. 
(Bloomington and Cleveland, 1992). 

Amenhotep son of Hapu (c. 1430-1350 bc) 
Born in the Delta town of Athribis (tell atrib), 
about 40 km north of Cairo, in z*. 1430 bc, 
Amenhotep son of Hapu - also known as Huy - 
rose to a position of influence during the reign 
of amenhotep in (1390-1352 bc.). In about 1390 
bc he moved from Athribis to the royal court at 
Thebes, where he is one of the guests portrayed 
in a banquet scene in the relief decoration of the 
tomb of his contemporary, the vizier ramose 
(tt55). He was subsequently promoted to the 
offices of ‘scribe of recruits’ and ‘director of all 
the king’s works’, which might be loosely trans¬ 
lated as ‘chief royal architect’. In this capacity 
he would have been in charge of the entire 
process of temple construction, from the 
extraction of the stone to the sculpting of 
reliefs, as well as the commissioning of such 
royal statues as the colossi of MEMNON. 

Grey granite scribe statue of Amenhotep son of 
Hapu as a young man, from the Tenth Pylon of 
Karnak temple. 18th Dynasty, c. 1365 bc, 
u. 1.28 m. (cairo jr.44861) 




He is known to have supervised the con¬ 
struction of the huge temple at soleb in Lower 
Nubia, where he is depicted alongside the king 
in several of the reliefs showing the ritual con¬ 
secration of the temple. He also built two 
tombs for himself, and in the thirty-first year 
of Amenhotep ill’s reign he began to build his 
own cult temple on the west bank at Thebes. 
Amenhotep’s importance during his own life¬ 
time is indicated not only by the unusual size 
of his cult temple but by the fact that it was the 
only private monument situated among the 
royal mortuary temples on the west bank at 
Thebes (see medimet habu). 

In the precincts of the temple of Amun at 
Karnak he was permitted to set up several 
statues of himself. His career has been large¬ 
ly reconstructed from the texts carved on 
these statues - one limestone block statue 
bears inscriptions on all four sides. Although 
one text expresses his desire to reach the age 
of a hundred and ten, it is likely that he died 
in his eighties. He was buried in a rock-tomb 
at the southern end of the Qurnet Murai, on 
the Theban west bank, and a surviving 21st- 
Dvnasty copy of a royal decree relating to his 
mortuary temple suggests that his cult con¬ 
tinued to be celebrated at least three cen¬ 
turies after his death. Eventually, like the 
3rd-Dvnasty architect imhotep (r.2650 bo), 
Amenhotep was deified posthumously in 
recognition of his wisdom and, from the 
late period, for his healing powers. In the 
Ptolemaic temple of Hathor at Deir el- 
Mcdina and the temple of Hatshepsut at 
Deir el-Bahri, chapels were dedicated to the 
worship of both Imhotep and Amenhotep 
son of Hapu. 

C. RobiCIION and A., Le temple du scribe 
royal Amenhotep fils de Hapou (Cairo, 1936). 

A., Inscriptions concernant I’archilecte 
Amenhotep fils de Hapou (Cairo, 1968) 

D. WiLDUNG, Egyptian saints: deification in 
pharaonic Egypt (New York, 1977). 

A. P. Kozeoff and B. M. Bryan, Egypt's dazzling 
sun: Amenhotep in and his world (Bloomington 
and Cleveland, 1992), 45-8. 


Creature in the netherworld, usually depicted 
with the head of a crocodile, the foreparts of a 
lion (or panther) and the rear of a hippopota¬ 
mus, whose principal epithets were ‘devourer 
of the dead’ and ‘great of death’. She is por¬ 
trayed in vignettes illustrating Chapter 125 of 
the Book of the Dead (see funerary texts). 
The scenes show her waiting beside the scales 
in the Hall of the Two Truths, where the hearts 
of the dead were weighed against the feather of 
MAAT. It was Ammut who consumed the hearts 

Detail from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer ; 
consisting of the vignette associated with Chapter 
125. Ammut is shown beside the scales on which the 
heart of the deceased is weighed. / 9th Dynasty, 
c.1280 bc, painted papyrus. ( ea9901, sheet 3) 

of those whose evil deeds made them unfit to 
proceed into the afterlife. 

C. Seeber, Untersuchungen zur Darstellung des 
Totengerichts im Alien Agypten (Munich, 1976). 

R. O. Faulkner, The ancient Egyptian Book of the 
Dead , ed. C. Andrews (London, 1985), 29—34. 

Amratian see predynastic: period 


Term used to describe the small prophylactic 
charms favoured by the Egyptians and other 
ancient peoples. The Egyptians called these 
items meket, nehel or SA (all words deriving 
from verbs meaning ‘to protect’), although the 
term ivedja (‘well-being’) was also used. As 
well as affording protection, they may have 
been intended to imbue the wearer with par¬ 
ticular qualities; thus, for instance, the bull 
and the lion may have been intended to pro¬ 
vide strength and ferocity respectively. During 
the First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 BC), 
parts of the human body were used as amulet 
shapes, perhaps serving as replacements for 
actual lost or damaged anatomical elements. 
However, only the heart amulet became essen¬ 

tial. Amulets frequently depicted sacred 
objects and animals, and, from the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc:) onwards, they por¬ 
trayed gods and goddesses, not just state and 
powerful local deities but also ‘household’ 
deities such as bes and taweret. The range of 
funerary amulets increased greatly from the 
Saite period (664-525 bc) onwards. 

Amulets could be made from stone, metal, 
glass or, more commonly, faience, and the 
materials were selected for their supposed 
magical properties. Specific combinations of 
material, colour and shape were prescribed for 
particular amulets in funerary texts from as 
early as the 5th Dynasty (see pyramid texts), 
although recognizable types of amulets were 
being made from the Badarian period 
(c. 5 500-4000 bc) onwards. The names 
ascribed to different shapes of amulet are 
known from a number of textual sources, 
notably the Papyrus MacGregor. 

A broad distinction can be made between 
those amulets that were worn in daily life, in 
order to protect the bearer magically from the 
dangers and crises that might threaten him or 
her, and those made expressly to adorn the 
mummified body of the deceased. The second 
category can include funerary deities such as 
anubls, SERKET, sons of horus, but rarely 
(strangely enough) figures of osiris, the god of 
the underworld. The book of the dead 
includes several formulae with illustrative 




Many amulets represented abstract con¬ 
cepts in the form of hieroglyphs, as in the case 
of the ankh (‘life’) and the djed PILLAR (‘sta¬ 
bility’). Among amuletic forms were the TYET 
(‘knot of Isis’), the WAS sceptre, the akhet 
(‘horizon’) and the wedjat-e ye (see iiorus). 
See also SCARAB and COWROID. 

G. A. Rejsner, Amulets , 2 vols (Cairo, 1907-58). 
W. M. F. Petrie, Amulets (London, 1914). 

C. Andrews, Amulets of ancient Egypt (London, 

Amun, Amun-Ra 

One of the most important gods in the 
Egyptian pantheon, whose temple at karnak 
is the best surviving religious complex of the 
New Kingdom. He is first mentioned (along 
with his wife Amaunet) in the 5th-D\nasty 
pyramid texts, but the earliest temples dedi¬ 
cated solely to Amun appear to have been in 
the Theban region, where he was worshipped 
as a local deity at least as early as the 11th 
Dynasty. Amun’s rise to pre-eminence was a 
direct result of the ascendancy of the Theban 
pharaohs from Mentuhotep n (2055-2004 bc) 
onwards, since politics and religion were very 
closely connected in ancient Egypt. In the 
jubilee chapel of Senusret i (1965-1920 bc:) at 
Karnak he is described as ‘the king of the 
gods’, and by the time of the Ptolemies he was 
regarded as the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus. 

His name probably means ‘the hidden one’ 
(although it may also be connected with the 

vignettes that endow prescribed amulets with 
magical powers; particular amulets were 
placed at specific points within the wrappings 
of a mummy, and Late Period funerary papyri 
sometimes end with representations of the 
appropriate position of each amulet on the 

Grey granite statue of Amun in the form of a 
ram protecting King Taharqo, whose figure 
is carved between the 
paws. 25th Dynasty, 
c .690-664 tic, 
from the 
temple of 
at Kama, 

11. 1.06 rn. 


Selection of amulets: faience hand, L. 3.1 cm, 
haematite headrest. It . 3 cm, faience papyrus, 
l. 5.6 cm, carnelian snake's head, L. 4.4 cm, 
haematite plummet, IV. at base 1.8 cm, haematite 
carpenter's square, it. 1.5 cm, faience staircase, 
b. 1.9 cm, carnelian leg, h. 2.1 cm, glass heart, 
tt. 5.3 cm, obsidian pair of fingers, it. 8.5 cm, red 
jasper net or ‘knot of Isis', h. 6.5 cm. Old 
Kingdom to Ptolemaic period, c .2300-100 nc. 
(ea22991, 8309, 7435, 8327, 8332, 3123, 23123, 
14622, 8088, 59500, 20639) 





ancient Libyan word for water, amun) and he 
was usually represented as a human figure 
wearing a double-plumed crown, sometimes 
with a ram’s head. It is implied, through such 
epithets as ‘mysterious of form’, that Amun’s 
true identity and appearance could never be 
revealed. As well as being part of a divine triad 
at Thebes (with mut and khons), he was also 
Amun Kematef, a member of the ogdoad, a 
group of eight primeval deities who were wor¬ 
shipped in the region of Hermopolis Magna. 
Amun Kematef (meaning ‘he who has com¬ 
pleted his moment’) was a creator-god able to 
resurrect himself by taking the form of a snake 
shedding his skin. Another aspect of Amun 
was an ithyphai.i.ic form, closely related to 
the fertility god min and described as Amun 
Kamutef (literally ‘bull of his mother’). 

Part of the success of Amun’s influence on 
Egyptian religion for most of the Dynastic 
period lay in his combination with other pow¬ 
erful deities, such as RA, the sun-god, who had 
been the dominant figure in the Old Kingdom 
pantheon. It was Amun-Ra, the Theban mani¬ 
festation of the sun-god, who presided over 
the expanding Egyptian empire in Africa and 
the Levant. Eventually the Theban priesthood 
of Amun-Ra used the prestige of the cult of 
Amun in order to legitimize their rivalry with 
the pharaohs at the end of the New Kingdom 
(see heriuor). 

The rise of the Kushite pharaohs of the 
25th Dynasty led to a renaissance in the wor¬ 
ship of Amun, since the Nubians believed that 
the true home of Amun was the sacred site of 
Gebel Barkal in northern Sudan (see napata). 
Kushite kings such as piy, stiabaqo and taiiar- 
QO therefore associated themselves with the 
cult of Amun and thus sought to renew and 
reinvigorate his centres of worship. 

K. Sktiik, Amun unddie acht Urgotter (Leipzig, 

J. Zandkk, De Uymnen aan A man van Papyrus 
Leiden 1350 (Leiden, 1948). 

P. Bargukt, Le temple d’Amon-re a Karnak: essai 
d'exegese (Cairo, 1962). 

E. Otto, Egyptian art und the culls of Osiris and 
Amun (London, 1968). 

—, ‘Amun’, Lexikon der Agyptologie i, ed. YV. 
Hclck, E. Otto and VV. Wcstcndorf (Wiesbaden, 
1975), 237-48. 

J. AsSMANN, Egyptian solar religion in the New 
Kingdom: Ra, Amun and the crisis of polytheism, 
trans. A. Alcock (London, 1995). 


One of a number of deities introduced into 
Egypt from Syria-Palestine. The cult of Anat 
is first attested in Egypt in the late Middle 
Kingdom (r.1800 bc) and one of the iivksos 

Stele of the chief royal craftsman Qeh. In the 
lower register Qeh and his family are shown 
worshipping the goddess Anat. In the upper register 
(from left to right) the deities Min, Qedeshet and 
Reshef are depicted; the inclusion of Min among a 
group of Western Asiatic deities is presumably 
explained by his association with the Eastern 
Desert. 19th Dynasty, c.1250 bc, limestone, from 
Deir el-Medina, it. 72 cm. (ml91) 

kings of the 16th Dynasty (r.1560 bc) includ¬ 
ed the name Anat-her in his titulary. In the 
Third Intermediate Period her cult was cele¬ 
brated in the temple of Mut at tanis. 

Although she held the beneficent epithets 
'mother of all the gods’ and ‘mistress of the 
sky 1 , she was primarily a goddess of war and 
w'as often depicted with shield, axe and lance. 
The myths surrounding Anat were concerned 
primarily with her savage exploits, and the 
Egyptians regarded her as protectress of the 
king in battle, a role sometimes shared with 
astarte. Although Egyptian texts often used 
the names of the goddesses Anat and Astarte 
virtually interchangeably, their cults were in 
practice distinct. 

The Syrian gods re. si fee and Baal were both 
regarded at various times as Anat’s consorts, 
and she was said to have given birth to a wild 
bull by Baal. At times she is also portrayed as 
the wife of seth (another god with Asiatic 
links), while private monuments sometimes 
depicted her alongside min, when the strong 
sexual aspect of her cult was being stressed. As 
w'ith many other goddesses, her cult w as some¬ 
times syncretized with that of hatiior. 

J. B. Pritchard, PalestinianJigurines in relation to 
certain goddesses known through literature (New 
Haven, 1943), 76-80. 

R. Stadeemann, Syrisch-paldstinische Gottheiten 
in Agypten (Leiden, 1967), 91-6. 

A. S. Kapelrud, The violent goddess Anat in the 
RasShamra texts (Oslo, 1969). 

ancestor busts 

'Perm used to refer to small painted anthro¬ 
poid busts serving as a focus for ancestor wor¬ 
ship in the New Kingdom. Most w r ere of 
limestone or sandstone, but a few smaller 
examples w'ere made of wood and clay. They 
were rarely inscribed (the bust of 
Mutemonet, shown below; being one of the 
few exceptions), but the predominance of red 
paint (the typical male skin-colour in 
Egyptian art) suggests that most of them rep¬ 
resent men. There are about 150 surviving 
examples, about half of w : hieh derive from the 
houses and funerary chapels of the tomb- 
workers at the village of deir el-medina. The 
cult of the ancestors, each of which was 
known as akh iker en Ra, ‘excellent spirit of 
Ra’, was an important aspect of popular reli¬ 
gion among the villagers. These ‘excellent 
spirits’ were also represented on about fifty- 
five surviving painted stelae, which, like the 
busts, could evidently be petitioned by rela¬ 
tives seeking divine aid. 

Limestone ancestor bust of Mutemonet. 19th 
Dynasty, c.1250 bc. it. 49 cm. (ea1198) 




J. Keitii-Benneit, ‘Anthropoid busts 11: not 
from Deir el Medineh alone’, BES 3 (1981), 

R. J. Demaree, The “// ikr n R" stelae: on ancestor 
worship in ancient Egypt (Leiden, 1983). 

F. D. Friedman, ‘Aspeets of domestic life and 
religion’. Pharaoh's workers: the villagers of Deir 
el Medina, ed. L. H. Lesko (Ithaca, 1994), 


Anedjib (Adjib, Andjveb, Enczib) (c.2925 uc:) 
Ruler of the late 1st Dynasty who is thought to 
have been buried in Tomb x at abydos, the 
smallest of the Early Dynastic royal tombs in 
the cemetery of Umm el-Qa‘ab. Part of the 
wooden flooring was preserved in the burial 
chamber. Tomb 3038 at SAQQARA has also been 
dated to his reign by means of seal impressions 
which also mention the name of an official 
called Nebitka who was presumably buried 
there. This tomb contained a mud-brick 
stepped structure inside the MASTABA-like 
superstructure which is considered to be a 
possible precursor of step pyramids, and simi¬ 
lar ‘internal tumuli’ have been identified in the 
recent re-excavations of the lst-Dvnastv royal 
tombs at Abydos. 

Anedjib was the first to have the nebty 
(‘Two Ladies’) title and the nesw-bil (‘He of 
the sedge and bee’) name in his ROYAL TITU¬ 
LARY, although the nesw-hit title (without a 
name) had already been introduced in the 
reign of his predecessor DEN. A number of 
stone vessels carved with references to his 
SED festival (royal jubilee) were excavated at 
Abydos. On most of these vases his name had 
been erased and replaced with that of his suc¬ 
cessor semerkiiet, leading to suggestions 
that there may have been some kind of dynas¬ 
tic feud. 

W. M. F. Petrie, The royal tombs of the Jirst 
dynasty i (London, 1900). 

W. B. Emery, Great tombs of the Jirst dynasty i 
(Cairo, 1949). 

—, Archaic Egypt (London, 1961), 80-4. 

Anhur see onuris 
Aniba (anc. Miam) 

Site of a settlement and cemetery in Lower 
Nubia, founded as an Egyptian fortress in the 
Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 uc). During the 
18th Dynasty (1550-1295 uc) Aniba became 
the administrative centre of Wawat, the area 
between the first and second Nile cataracts. 
The reception of tribute from the Nubian 
Prince of Miam is portrayed in the Theban 
tomb of Tutankhamun’s viceroy, Huy (tt40). 
The site was partially excavated during the 
1930s, but after the completion of the Aswan 

Copy of a wall-painting in the tomb ojHuy, showing 
IleqaneJ'er ; Prince of Miam (Aniba) and other 
chiefs, bowing before Tutankhamim. 18th Dynasty, 
e. 1330 tic. (copy by mm dp. gams nines) 

High Dam in 1971 it was submerged by Lake 

G. Stkindorff, Anilnt , 2 vols (Gliickstadt, 

animal husbandry 

The keeping and breeding of animals is attest¬ 
ed as early as the Predynastic period at Lower 
Egyptian sites such as MERIMDA salama 
(r.4900-4300 bc). Even in the Old Kingdom, 
there was still an element of experimentation 
in the process of domestication of more 
unusual breeds, judging from such evidence as 
scenes of the force-feeding of cranes in the 
5th-Dynasty tomb of Sopduhotep at Saqqara, 
and the depiction of the force-feeding of 
hyenas in the 6th-Dvnasty tomb of mkreruka 
at the same site. For most of the Dynastic peri¬ 
od the most common domesticated animals 
were cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, asses and poul¬ 
try. Ducks, geese and pigeons were the princi¬ 
pal domesticated fowl; hens deriving from the 
African Jungle Fowl may have been introduced 
in the New r Kingdom, but the earliest pub¬ 
lished skeletal evidence dates to the late fifth or 
early sixth century ad. 

Cattle were important for their meat and 
milk but were also kept as draught animals. 
From the Predynastic period to the Old 
Kingdom, cattle were mainly of the long¬ 
horned type, but thinner short-horned vari¬ 
eties were gradually introduced from the Old 
Kingdom onwards, eventually becoming the 
norm. In the 18th Dynasty humped Zebu 
cattle were introduced as draught animals, but 
thev never seem to have become common. 

Cattle were tended by herdsmen who, as in 
parts of Africa today, stayed w ith the herd and 
moved them to new : pastures as necessary. In 
the winter the herds grazed in the Nile valley, 
although many w ere moved to the Delta dur¬ 
ing the summer months. Identification of 
herds was facilitated by marking them, and a 
number of branding tools have survived. 

It w as the meat of oxen which was the most 
prized for offerings at temples and tombs, and 
which frequently figures in reliefs there. 
Wealthy landowners boast of enormous herds 
of cattle, and other animals, in their tomb 
inscriptions, and as a sign of wealth they were 
also a source of taxable revenue. 

The horse, introduced around the time of 
the hyksos occupation in the Second 
Intermediate Period, did not become common 
until the New Kingdom, and was then used 
primarily for military purposes. Donkeys were 
extensively used as pack animals and, like 
cattle, for threshing. The camel was not used 
until late in the Pharaonic period, and 
although there is some possible pictorial evi¬ 
dence from the late New r Kingdom, the use of 
domesticated camels is not attested until the 
ninth century uc. 

Sheep and goats were kept for meat, wool, 
hide and probably milk, although wool was 
never as important as linen in terms of textile 
manufacture. The Egyptians described both 
sheep and goats as ‘small cattle’, thus implying 
that all three animals were regarded as being of 
roughly the same type. Goats, however, were 
more common than sheep, and better suited to 
grazing on poor land. 

Pigs were regarded as animals of setii, the 
god of chaos, and for this reason enjoyed 
somewhat ambiguous status. According to the 
Greek historian Herodotus, those who kept 
them formed a kind of underclass who could 



only marry the daughters of other swineherds. 
However, it is not clear whether this was the 
case in more ancient times, and a scene from 
the 6th-Dynastv tomb of Kagemni at Saqqara 
shows a swineherd giving milk to a piglet from 
his own tongue, perhaps implying that the 
herders of pigs were not held in any particu¬ 
larly low esteem relative to other farmers. 
Excavations during the 1980s at the site of the 
el-amarna workmen’s village have revealed 
surprisingly extensive evidence of pig rearing, 
and similar evidence has emerged from exca¬ 
vations at Memphis, Elephantine and Tell el- 
Dab‘a, indicating that pork must have formed 
an important part of the diet of at least some 
classes of society. Although pork was never 
used in temple offerings, pigs are nevertheless 
included in lists of temple assets. Amenhotep, 
chief steward of Amenhotep in (1390-1352 
nc), states that he donated a thousand pigs to a 
statue of his master at Memphis. 

R. Janssen and J. J. Janssen, Egyptian household 
animals (Aylesbury, 1989). 

E. Strouhal, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 109-18. 

K. C. MacDonald and D. N. Edwards, 
‘Chickens in Africa: the importance of Qasr 
Ibrim’, Antiquity 67/256 (1993), 584—90. 

D. J. Brewer, D. B. Redford and S. Redford, 
Domestic plants and animals: the Egyptian origins 
(Warminster, 1994). 


Hieroglyphic sign denoting ‘life’, which takes 
the form of a T-shape surmounted by a loop. 
The pictogram has been variously interpreted 
as a sandal strap (the loop at the top forming 

Ankh, djed and was -sceptre amulet. Late Period, 
c. 700-500 bc, faience, it. 23.1 cm. (ea54412) 

the ankle strap) and a penis sheath. Temple 
reliefs frequently included scenes in which the 
king was offered the ankh sign by the gods, 
thus symbolizing the divine conferral of eter¬ 
nal life. In the Amarna period it was depicted 
being offered to Akhenaten and Nefertiti by 
the hands at the end of the rays descending 
from the sun disc (see aten). The ankh sign 
seems to have been one of the few hiero¬ 
glyphs that was comprehensible even to the 
illiterate; therefore it is commonly found as 
a maker’s mark on pottery vessels. The sign 
was eventually adopted by the COPTIC church 
as their unique form of cross, known as the 
crux ansata. 

J. R. Baines, ‘Ankh sign, belt and penis sheath’, 
SAK3 (1975), 1-24. 

C. Andrews, Amulets of ancient Egypt (London, 
1994), 86. 


Desert-dwelling horned bovid, which served 
as the symbol of the 16th Upper Egyptian 
nome (province). Three species of antelope are 
known from ancient Egypt ( Alcephalus husela- 
phus, Oryx gazella and Addax nasomaculato). 
The goddess satet of Elephantine was origi¬ 
nally worshipped in the form of an antelope, 
and her headdress during the Pharaonic peri¬ 
od consisted of a combination of antelope 
horns and the Upper Egyptian crown. Satet 
was responsible for the water of the first Nile 
cataract at Aswan, and a connection seems to 
have been made by the ancient Egyptians 
between water and antelopes, so that the god¬ 
dess anuket could also be represented by 
another type of antelope, the gazelle, although 
she was more commonly depicted as a woman. 
The gazelle may also have symbolized grace 
and elegance, and paintings in the 18th- 
Dvnasty tomb of menna (tt69) at Thebes 
show that it was sometimes used in place of a 
uraeus (see wadjyt) for minor queens and 

The desert links of the antelope and gazelle 
also led to their association with the god seth, 
and, correspondingly, the antelope was occa¬ 
sionally shown as the prey of the god iiorus in 
later times. One of the earliest forms of amulet 
took the form of a gazelle head, possibly in 
order to ward off the evil that such desert ani¬ 
mals represented. 

G. J. Boessnec.k, Die Haustiere in Altagypten 
(Munich, 1953). 

L., ‘Antilope’, Lexikon der Agyptologie 
i, ed. W. I lelck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1975), 319-23. 

E. Brunner-Traut, ‘Gazelle’, Lexikon der 
Agyptologie n, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. 
Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1977), 426-7. 

Anubis (Inpw) 

Canine god of the dead, closely associated 
with embalming and mummification. He is 
usually represented in the form of a seated 
black dog or a man with a dog’s head, but it is 
not clear whether the dog in question - often 
identified by the Egyptian word sab - was a 
jackal. The connection between jackals and 
the god of mummification probably derived 

Limestone statuette of Anubis. Ptolemaic period, 
c .300-100 bc, it. 51 cm. (ea47991) 

from the desire to ward off the possibility of 
corpses being dismembered and consumed 
bv such dogs. The black colouring of Anubis, 
however, is not characteristic of jackals; it 
relates instead to the colour of putrefying 
corpses and the fertile black soil of the Nile 
valley (which was closely associated with the 
concept of rebirth). The seated Anubis dog 
usually wore a ceremonial tie or collar around 
his neck and held a flail or sekhem sceptre like 
those held by osrfcis, the other principal god 
of the dead. The cult of Anubis himself was 
eventually assimilated with that of Osiris. 
According to myth, the jackal-god was said to 
have wrapped the body of the deceased 
Osiris, thus establishing his particular associ¬ 
ation with the mummification process. 
Anubis was also linked with the LMlUT fetish, 
apparently consisting of a decapitated animal 
skin hanging at the top of a pole, images of 
which were included among royal funerary 




equipment in the New Kingdom. Both 
Anubis and the imiut fetish were known as 
‘sons of the hesat -cow 

Anubis’ role as the guardian of the necrop¬ 
olis is reflected in two of his most common 
epithets: neb-ta-djeser (‘lord of the sacred 
land’) and khenty-seh-netjer (‘foremost of the 
divine booth’), the former showing his control 
over the cemetery itself and the latter indicat¬ 
ing his association with the embalming tent or 
the burial chamber. An image of Anubis also 
figured prominently in the seal with which the 
entrances to the tombs in the valley of tiie 
kings were stamped. This consisted of an 
image of a jackal above a set of nine bound 
captives, showing that Anubis would protect 
the tomb against evildoers. 

Perhaps the most vivid of Anuhis’ titles was 
tepy-dju-ef (‘he who is upon his mountain’), 
which presents the visual image of a god con¬ 
tinually keeping a watch on the necropolis 
from his vantage point in the high desert. In a 
similar vein, both he and Osiris are regularly 
described as khentimentiu (‘foremost of the 
westerners’), which indicated their dominance 
over the necropolis, usually situated in the 
west. Khentimentiu was originally the name of 
an earlier canine deity at abydos whom Anubis 

H. Kees, ‘Anubis “Herr von Sepa” und der 
18. oberagyptische Gau’, ZAS 58 (1923), 

—, ‘Kulttopographische und mythologische 
Beitrage, ZAS 71 (1935), 150-5. 

—■, ‘Der Gau von Kynopolis und seine Gotteit’, 
MIO 6 (1958), 157-75. 

Anuket (Anquet, Anukis) 

Goddess of the first Nile cataract region 
around Aswan, who is generally represented as 
a woman holding a papyrus sceptre and wear¬ 
ing a tall plumed crown. Her cult is recorded 
as early as the Old Kingdom, when, like many 
goddesses, she was regarded as a daughter of 
the sun-god ra, but in the New Kingdom she 
became part of the triad of Elephantine along 
with KHNUM and SATET. A temple was dedicat¬ 
ed to her on the island of Sehel, a short dis¬ 
tance to the south of Aswan, and she was also 
worshipped in Nubia. 

E. Otto, ‘Anuket’, Lexikon der Agypto/ogie i, ed. 
W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1975), 333-4. 


Meroitic leonine and anthropomorphic lion¬ 
headed god, whose principal cult-centres were 
at the sites of Musawwarat el-Sufra and Naqa, 
both located in the desert to the east of the 
sixth Nile cataract in Sudan, although there 

were also ‘lion temples’ at meroe and probably 
Basa. Many aspects of religion and ritual in 
the Meroitic period (r.300 bc-ad 300) derived 
from Egyptian practices, amun in particular 
being as pre-eminent in Meroe as he had been 
in Pharaonic Egypt. But there were also a few 
important Nubian deities, such as the anthro¬ 
pomorphic ARENSNLPI ns and the creator-god 
Sebiumeker, foremost among whom was the 
war-god Apedemak. 

In the lion temple at Musawwarat el-Sufra 
there were long inscriptions consisting of 
prayers to the god, inexplicably written in 
Egyptian hieroglyphs rather than the 
Meroitic script, describing him as ‘splendid 
god at the head of Nubia, lion of the south, 
strong of arm’, possibly indicating that he was 
the tutelary god of the southern half of the 
Meroitic kingdom, where lions were still rela¬ 
tively common until the nineteenth century 
AD (few references to the god have survived in 
Lower Nubia). The lion temple at Naqa, 
founded by Natakamani and his queen 
Amanitere, consists of a pylon followed by a 
pillared court (narrower than the front 
fayade). The walls are decorated with reliefs in 
which Apedemak is depicted alongside 
Egyptian deities such as hathor and Amun, 
even forming a divine triad with ISIS and 
iiorus as his consort and child. 

J. W. Crow foot and E W. Griffith, The island 
of 'Meroe; Meroitic inscriptions (London, 1911), 
54-61 [temple of Apedemak at Naqa], 

F. Hintze et al., Musawwarat es Sufra 1/2 
(Berlin, 1971). 

L.V. Zabkar, Apedemak: lion god of Meroe 
(Warminster, 1975). 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa , 2nd ed. 
(London and Princeton, 1984), 325-7. 

Apepi (Apophis) 

The name Apepi (or Apophis), which occurs 
in MANETHO, w r as adopted by at least one of the 
HYKSOS pharaohs who ruled a substantial area 
of Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period 
(1650-1550 bc). Inscriptions in the temple at 
Bubastis (tell basta) preserve the name of 
Aqenenra Apepi. A quasi-historical literary 
work known as the Quarrel of Apophis and 
Seqenenra describes the w ar between a Hyksos 
king called Apepi and his Theban rival, 
seqenenra TAA ii, beginning with a letter sent 
by Apepi complaining that he is being kept 
aw ake by the sound of hippopotami in Upper 
Egypt. A more reliable version of the Theban 
military campaign against Aauscrra Apepi is 
provided by two fragmentary stelae dating to 
the reign of the Theban king kamose, and a 
later hieratic copy of the same text (known as 
the Carnarvon Tablet). 

T. Save-Soderbergh, ‘The Hyksos rule in 
Egypt’, JEA 37 (1951), 53-71. 

R. St.ADELMANN, ‘Ein Beitrag zum Brief des 
Hyksos Apophis’, MDAIK 36 (1965), 62-9. 

J. van Seters, The Hyksos: a new investigation 
(New Haven, 1966), 153-8. 


Sacred bull who served as the BA (physical 
manifestation) or ‘herald’ of the god ptah. His 
principal sanctuary was therefore located near 
the temple of Ptah at MEMPHIS, in the vicinity 
of which the ‘embalming house’ of the Apis 

Bronze votive group statuette of an unnamed ruler 
kneeling before an Apis bull, his hands held out in 
offering. It was dedicated by Peftjawemawyhor, 
who is named on the bull's pedestal. 26th Dynasty, 
c.600 bc, //. of bull 12.5 cm. (f.a22920) 




bulls has been unearthed. Unlike many other 
sacred animals the Apis bull was always a sin¬ 
gle individual animal, selected for his particu¬ 
lar markings. According to the Greek historian 
Herodotus, the Apis bull, conceived from a 
bolt of lightning, was black with a white dia¬ 
mond on tlie forehead, the image of a vulture 
on its back, double hairs on its tail, and a 
scarab-shaped mark under its tongue. 

The cult of the Apis probably dates back 
to the beginning of Egyptian history, 
although Manetho, the Ptolemaic historian, 
claims that it originated in the 2nd Dynasty. 
The bull was closely linked with the 
pharaoh, both being divine manifestations of 
a god who were crowned at the time of their 
installation. Like the king, the Apis bull 
had his own ‘window of appearances’ (see 
PALACES) and, at least from the Late Period, 
he was thought to provide ORACLES. From the 
22nd Dynasty onwards, the bull was repre¬ 
sented on private coffins, as if accompanying 
the deceased westwards to the tomb or east¬ 
wards (presumably towards a new life) and 
serving as a protector of the dead. 

At the death of each of the Apis bulls, there 
was national mourning, and the embalmed 
corpse was taken along the sacred way from 
Memphis to Saqqara, for burial in a granite 
sarcophagus in the underground catacombs 
known as the .serapeum, which were in use 
from at least as early as the New Kingdom. 
According to Herodotus, the Persian ruler 
Cambyses (525-522 ik:) mocked the cult and 
caused the death of the Apis bull of the time, 
although it has been suggested that this story 
may simply have been an attempt to discredit 
the Persians, since it appears to be contradict¬ 
ed by a textual record of an Apis burial actual¬ 
ly conducted by Cambyses. 

Because of the divine nature of his birth, 
the mothers of the Apis bulls were venerated 
as manifestations of the goddess ISIS; they 
were accorded similar burials to their off¬ 
spring, in the ‘Iseum’ (or ‘mothers of Apis’ 
catacomb), a set of galleries further to the 
north in Saqqara which were excavated in 
1970 by Bryan Emery. The ‘calves of the Apis’ 
were also buried ceremonially, but their cata¬ 
combs, like the early Pharaonic Apis galleries, 
remain undiscovered. 

After his death, the Apis bull became iden¬ 
tified with OSIRIS, being described as the syn¬ 
cretic deity Osiris-Apis or Osorapis. In the 
early Ptolemaic period the cult of ser ums was 
introduced, combining the traits of the Greek 
gods Zeus, Helios, Hades, Dionysos and 
Asklepios with those of Osorapis. 

A. Mariette, Le Serapenm de Memphis (Paris, 

E. Brl ascii, ‘Der Apis-Kreis aus den Zeiten der 
Ptolemaer nach den hieroglv phischen und 
demotischen YVcihinschriftcn des Serapcums 
von Memphis’, ZAS 22 (1884), 110—36. 

J. Vi. rc.gutter, ‘Unc cpitaphe royale inedite du 
Serapeum’, MDAIK 16 (1958), 333-45. 

M. Malinlne, G. Posexer, J. Vercoutter, Les 
steles du Serapeum de Alemphis au Alusee du 
Louvre (Paris, 1969). 

W. B. Emery, ‘Preliminary report on the 
excavations at North Saqqara 1969—70’, JEA 57 
(1971), 3-13. 

Apophis (iiyksos rulers) see apepi 


Snake-god of the underworld, who symbol¬ 
ized the forces of chaos and evil. Apophis is 
usually represented on New : Kingdom funer¬ 
ary papyri and on the w alls of the royal tombs 
in the valley of the kings as the eternal 
adversary of the sun-god ra. It was the serpent 
Apophis who posed the principal threat to the 
bark of the sun-god as it passed through the 
underworld. Although in some circumstances 
Apophis was equated with the god setii (and 
both had Asiatic connections), there arc also 
vignettes showing Seth contributing to the 
defeat of Apophis. The evil ‘eve of Apophis’ 
was an important mythological and ritualistic 
motif, which could be thwarted only by Seth 
or by the eye of the sun-god. There are about 
twenty surviving temple reliefs showing the 
king striking a ball before a goddess (at Deir 

Detail from the Book of the Dead ofHunefer ; 
showing the sun-god in the form of a cat 
symbolically decapitating Apophis. 19tli Dynast y, 
c. 1280 tic. (e 19901, sheet 8) 

el-Bahri, Luxor, Edfu, Dendcra and Philae), 
apparently in simulation of the removal of 
Apophis’ eye. 

The so-called Book of Apophis w'as a collec¬ 
tion of spells and rites intended to thwart the 
snake-god, the best surviving text being 
Papyrus Bremner-Rhind, which dates to the 
late fourth century bc. Other fragmentary 
examples of the Book of Apophis date at least as 
early as the reign of Rameses in (118-1—1153 
BC), and the text was probably originally com¬ 
posed during the New Kingdom, somewhere 
in the vicinity of Heliopolis. Like die EXECRA¬ 
TION texts, the various spells were connected 
with elaborate cursing rituals. 

H. Bonnet, Rea Ilex ikon der dgyptischen 
Re/igionsgeschichte (Berlin, 1952), 51—3. 

B. Strieker, De grote zeeslaug (Leiden, 1953). / 
J. F. Borgi lou rs, ‘The evil eye of Apopis \JEAf 
59(1973), 114-49. 

G. Hart, Egyptian myths (London, 1990), 

58 -61. 

Apries (Haaibra/Wahibra) (589—570 bc) 
Fourth king of the sajte 26th Dynasty and son 
of psamtek ii (595-589 bc), he was the Biblical 
Hophra. Although Herodotus claims that the 
wife of Apries was called Nitetis, there are no 
contemporary references naming her. He was 


apuleius, LUCIUS 


an active builder, constructing additions to the 
temples at Athribis (tell atrib), bahAriya 
oasis, MEMPHIS and sais. In the fourth year of 
his reign he had Ankhnesneferibra adopted as 
Nitiqret’s successor as god’s win; or amun. 
His foreign policy concentrated primarily on 
the defence of the northeastern frontier, with 
campaigns against Cyprus, Palestine and 
PHOENICIA. It was shortly after a defeat by 
Nebuchadnezzar u of BABYLON that he was 
deposed by the former general Ahmose n in 
570 bc:. He fled the country and probably died 
in battle in 567 BC, when he attempted to 
regain his throne by force with the help of a 
Babylonian army (although Herodotus sug¬ 
gests that he was captured and later strangled). 
His body is said to have been carried to Sais 
and buried there with full royal honours by 
Ahmose u. Only one surviving statue has been 
identified as Apries by his name and titles 
(although several others have been assigned to 
him on stylistic grounds), and only a few fig¬ 
ures of private individuals bear his cartouches. 
W. M. F. Petrif. and J. H. Walker, The palace of 
Apries (Memphis ii) (London, 1999). 

B. Gunn, ‘The stela of Apries at Mitrahina’, 
ASAE 27 (1927), 211-37. 

H. de Meulenaere, Herodotus over de 26ste 
Dynastie (Louvain, 1951). 

B.V. Bothmkr, Egyptian sculpture of the Lute 
Period , 700 bc—J00ad (Brooklyn, 1969), 58-9. 

Apuleius, Lucius (cad 123-after 161) 
Classical writer, born at Madaura in Africa 
and educated in Carthage, who travelled 
widely, visiting Rome and Athens. He was the 
author of several literary works, including 
Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass, the only 
Latin novel to have survived in its entirety. It 
describes the exploits of a man called Lucius, 
who is said to have been redeemed by the 
‘mysteries’ of the goddess ISIS. Apuleius’ writ¬ 
ings have thus provided insights into the cults 
of Isis and osiris in the Roman period. 

R. Graves, The golden ass (Harmondsworth, 

archaeology see belzoni, Egyptology; 
LEPsrus; marif.tte; maspero; pi. trie; reisnt.r; 
Rosei.lini and wilkinson. 

Archaic period see early dynastic: period 

Arensnuphis (Arsnuphis, Harensnuphis) 
Meroitic god, usually represented as a human 
figure wearing a feathered crown, whose cult is 
first attested at the Upper Nubian site of 
Musawwarat el-Sufra during the reign of 
Arnakamani (235-218 bc). He was associated 
with the Egyptian gods sue and onlrls, merg¬ 

ing with the former in the syncretic form Shu- 
Arensnuphis. The Egyptians interpreted his 
name as iry-hemes-nefer (‘the good compan¬ 
ion’), although the origins of both the god and 
his name probably lay much further south in 
Africa. His absorption into the Egyptian pan¬ 
theon is also indicated by the fact that he is 
depicted in the reliefs of the Egyptian temple 
of Dendur, which originally stood about 75 
km to the south of Aswan (now re-erected in 
the Metropolitan Museum, New York). There 
was even a kiosk dedicated to Arensnuphis in 
the temple of the goddess Isis at piiilae, 
which—most unusually-was jointly built and 
decorated by the Meroitic king Arkamani 
(218-200 bc) and the Egyptian ruler ptolemy 
IV Philopator (221-205 bc). 

E. Winter, ‘Arensnuphis: seine Name und seine 
Herkunft’, RdE 25 (1973), 235-50. 

Armant (anc. Iunu-Montu) 

Upper Egyptian site on the west bank of the 
Nile, 9 km southwest of Luxor. The excavated 
features of Armant include extensive cemeter¬ 
ies and many areas of Predynastic settlement. 
The Predynastic necropolis at Armant, exca¬ 
vated by Robert Mond and Oliver Myers 

Sandstone stele from the Bucheum of Armant, on 
which the Roman emperor Diocletian is depicted in 
the act of worshipping a mummified Buchis hull. 
Roman period, . id 288, it. (7 cm. (EA 16%) 

during the early 1930s, is probably the best- 
documented site of its date to have been exca¬ 
vated in the first few decades of the twentieth 
century. There is also a stonebuilt temple of 
the war-god montu - dating from the 11 th 
Dynasty to the Roman period (r.2040 bc-ad 
200 ) - which was largely destroyed in the late 
nineteenth century. To the north of the main 
site are the remains of the Bucheum, the 
necropolis of the sacred buchis bulls (c. 1350 
bc:—AD 305), as well as the burial-place of the 
‘Mother of Buchis’ cows. Myers also excavat¬ 
ed an a-group cemetery at the site. 

R. Mond and O. H. Myers, The Bucheum, 3 vols 
(London, 1934). 

—, Cemeteries of Armant i (London, 1937). 

—, Temples of Armant: a preliminary survey 
(London, 1940). 

W. Kaiser, ‘Zur inneren Chronologic tier 
Naqadakultur’, Archaeologia Geographica 6 
(1957), 69-77. 

K. Bard, ‘A quantitative analysis of the 
predynastic burials in Armant cemetery 
1400-1500’, JfEA 74 (1988), 39-55. 


There was no permanent national army in 
Egypt during the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 
bc), although a small royal bodyguard proba¬ 
bly already existed. Groups of young men 
were evidently conscripted specifically for 
particular expeditions, ranging from quarry¬ 
ing, mining and trading ventures to purely 
military campaigns. The inscriptions in the 
funerary chapel of Weni at Abvdos (r.2300 
bc) describe a campaign in Palestine under¬ 
taken by an army of ‘tens of thousands of 
conscripts’, whom the king had requisi¬ 
tioned from the various nomarchs (provin¬ 
cial governors). 

During the First Intermediate Period 
(2181-2055 bc) increasing numbers of 
nomarchs seem to have recruited their own 
private armies, and it seems likely that the 
early 12th-Dynasty campaigns in Nubia 
involved combinations of these local corps 
rather than a single national force. By the time 
of Senusrct in (1874-1855 bc). however, the 
reduction in the power of the provinces and 
the construction of permanent fortresses 
and garrisons in nubia all seem to have con¬ 
tributed to the creation of a large national 
army. The development of military organiza¬ 
tion and hierarchy is indicated in the late 
Middle Kingdom by the emergence of such 
specific titles as ‘soldier of the city corps’ and 
‘chief of the leaders of dog patrols’. Other tex¬ 
tual sources, such as the ‘Semna dispatches’ 
(see letters), show that there was a consider¬ 
able military infrastructure, manned by 




Soldiers in the reign of Hatshepsut. Important 
evidence concerning military equipment is derived 
from reliefs such as this from Hatshepsut s temple 
at Deir el-Bahri. (p. r. nichqlson) 

scribes and other bureaucrats, by the end of 
the 12th Dynasty. 

It was in the 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 bc), 
however, that the military profession came 
into its own, and it is significant that men with 
military backgrounds, such as horemiieb 
(1323-1295 bc) and rameses i (1295-1294 bc), 
began to rise to the throne, which had previ¬ 
ously been dominated bv a more scribal and 
priestly elite. The New Kingdom army was 
often led by one of the king’s sons; it consist¬ 
ed of a northern and southern corps, each 
commanded by a ‘chief deputy’. When cam¬ 
paigns w ere launched into western Asia, Libya 
or Nubia, there were usually four or five large 
divisions, each comprising about five thou¬ 
sand professional soldiers and conscripts. 
These divisions were each named after a god, 
such as Amun or Ptah, perhaps with reference 
to the deity of the NOME (province) from which 
the conscripts were drawn. The smallest tacti¬ 
cal unit of the army w as the ‘platoon’ of fifty 
soldiers, generally grouped into 250-strong 

From the beginning of the Pharaonic period, 
mercenaries were used in Egyptian armies: the 
MEDJAY, for instance, were increasingly used as 
scouts during desert campaigns. From the 
Ramesside period onwards, the reliefs depict¬ 
ing military confrontations show that the 
Egyptian troops had begun to incorporate 
more and more foreigners, often as branded 

SLAVES w r ho were able to gain their freedom by 
enrolling in the Egyptian armv In the Saite 
period (664—525 bc) the Egyptians became 
particularly dependent on Greek and Phoeni¬ 
cian mercenaries, who helped to man a fleet of 
Greco-Phoenician-style war-galleys, enabling 
Egypt to maintain some control over maritime 
trade with the Levant. See also captives; 
chariot; ships and boats; standards. 

Y. Yigael, The art of warfare in Biblical lands 
(London, 1963). 

A. R. Sci IULMAN, Military rank, title and 
organization in the Egyptian New Kingdom 
(Berlin, 1964). 

A. J. Spalinger, Aspects of the military documents 
of the ancient Egyptians (New Haven, 1982). 

I. Shaw, Egyptian warfare and weapons 
(Aylesbury, 1991), 25-30. 

Arsaphes see herysiief 


Just as the works of the Impressionists or the 
Cubists can be properly understood only in 
terms of the particular time and place in w hich 
they were made, so the style and purposes of 
Egyptian art make little real sense without a 
detailed understanding of ancient Egyptian 
culture. Egyptian art was essentially function¬ 
al, in that funerary paintings and sculptures, 
for instance, were concerned primarily w'ith 
the continuance of life - the w orks of art were 
intended not merely to imitate or reflect reali¬ 
ty but to replace and perpetuate it. 

Whereas in the modern western world a 
reasonably clear distinction is usually made 
between art and craft, the products of ancient 

Egyptian craftsmen, from faience amulets to 
royal funerary reliefs, were regarded as essen¬ 
tially the same. The level of aesthetic achieve¬ 
ment may have varied considerably, but all of 
these works had the same purpose: to repre¬ 
sent, influence and manipulate the real world. 

Nothing expresses the nature of Egyptian 
art more succinctly than the fact that the 
same religious ritual of ‘the opening of the 
mouth’ was performed by Egyptian funerary 
priests both on the mummy of the deceased 
and on his or her statuary. The ritual involved 
touching the face of the statue or mummy 
with a set of special implements in order to 
bring it to life and allows the ka (life-force or 
essence) of the deceased to take up residence 
there. In the time of the Ptolemies a similar 
rite was performed each day in the temple 
of the god Horus at edfu; its objective was to 
bring to life every divine figure on the deco¬ 
rated w’alls, as if the whole temple w^ere a liv¬ 
ing organism. 

Predynastic pottery vessel hearing red painted 
decoration comprising boats, animals and human 
figures, including a dancing woman /goddess with 
raised arms. Early Nacjada It period, c .3500 RC, 
from el-Amra, //. 29.2 cm. (ea35502) 

Egyptian art was concerned above all with 
ensuring the continuity of the universe, the 
gods, the king and the people - the artists 
therefore depicted things not as they saw 
them but as idealized symbols intended to be 
more significant and enduring than the real 
day-to-day world. They portrayed each indi¬ 
vidual element of the subject from the most 
representative angle: the human torso and 
eye were clearly both best viewed from the 
front, w r hereas the arms, leg and face were 




best seen from the side. This concern with 
separate components, at the expense of the 
overall effect, often causes Egyptian depic¬ 
tions of human figures to appear distorted 
and internally inconsistent to modern eyes. 
Even when the figures on the walls of 
Egyptian tombs and temples arc acting out 
mvths, rituals and historical events they are 
still carved and painted with the stiffness and 
formulaic appearance of hieroglyphs. In an 
extreme example of this connection between 
writing and art, the burial chamber of the 
tomb of Thutmose m (1479—1425 bc; kv 34) 
has the shape of a CARTOUCHE, thus enabling 
the body of the king to take the place of the 
writing of his own name. The Egyptian writ¬ 
ing system was based on the precise visual 
and phonetic meanings of pictures, and in the 
same way the works of art were intended to 
be ‘read’ like an elaborate code. In some 
tombs, however, hieroglyphs representing 
animals that might prove dangerous - such as 
snakes - were sometimes shown mutilated, 
or with a knife sticking into them, dispelling 
their power so that they could serve only 
as symbols. 

In most recent western art the artists them¬ 
selves tend to be as well known as their works: 
their individual styles - and, in the last resort, 
their signatures - mark out a body of work as 
their own. The situation in ancient Egypt, 
however, was almost the reverse - it was 
essential for the subject of the art to be iden¬ 
tified by name in order that the sculpture or 
painting could serve its religious purpose; the 
artists, on the other hand, are only rarely 
mentioned. Egyptian artists themselves were 
regularly regarded as anonymous craftsmen, 
working in teams and according to strict 
guidelines, although their works might be 
highly regarded. Surprisingly perhaps, this 
situation rarely seems to have resulted in 
inhibited or uninspired art, indeed the most 
recent studies of tomb-paintings at Thebes 
have begun to produce evidence for the dis¬ 
tinctive styles and approaches of particular 
groups of craftsmen. 

The earliest Egyptian art is quite different 
from that of the pyramids and temples of the 
Pharaonic period. As early as the eighth mil¬ 
lennium bc the first inhabitants of the Nile 
valley began to make engraved drawings on 
the cliffs, particularly in Upper Egypt and 
Nubia. They depicted the fundamentals of 
their lives, from wild game and hunting scenes 
in the earlier times to river-boats and herds of 
cattle in the early Neolithic period. The art of 
the Predvnastic period (r. 5500-3100 bc) has 
survived mainly in the form of small carved 
stone and ivory grave goods and painted pot¬ 

tery vessels, placed alongside the deceased in 
simple pit-burials. The small votive figures of 
people and animals include many female stat¬ 
uettes made of pottery and ivory, whose exag¬ 
gerated sexual characteristics suggest that they 
probably related to early fertility cults (see 

Some of the painted scenes on pottery ves¬ 
sels still reflect the prehistoric rock-carvings, 
while others foreshadow the styles and preoc¬ 
cupations of the Dynastic period. A painting 

Fragment of wall-painting from the tomb of 
Kynebu at Deir el-Medina, showing the deified 
ruler Amenhotep i. 20th Dynasty, c. 1129-1126 
bc,, painted plaster, ft. 44 cm. (ei37993) 

in the late Predvnastic Tomb 100 at 
Hierakonpolis (the first Egyptian example of a 
decorated tomb chamber), consisting of 
groups of people, animals and boats, is the 
only surviving instance of the transferral of 
the Predvnastic pottery paintings on to the 
plastered wall of a tomb. In addition, a paint¬ 
ed linen shroud, preserved in a late 
Predvnastic tomb at gebelein (now in the 
Museo Egizio, Turin), bears depictions of 
human figures and a boat, all strongly reminis¬ 
cent of the scenes on contemporary painted 

pottery. This suggests that there were prob¬ 
ably many other works of art executed on 
organic materials, such as linen and leather, 
which have rarely survived from such early 

In the final stages of the Predynastic period 
a range of unusual ceremonial artefacts — 
MACES, palettes and ivory-handled flint 
knives - began to play an important role in the 
emerging religious ritual and social hierarchy. 
Many of the more elaborate maceheads and 
palettes, such as those of the kings named 
SCORPION and narmer, were discovered in the 
so-called ‘main deposit’ of the temple at 
Hierakonpolis. Although the archaeological 
circumstances of the discovery are poorly 
recorded, they were evidently deposited as 
votive offerings, and their carved decoration 
appears to summarize the important events of 
the year in which they were offered to the god. 
It is not clear whether any of the scenes are 
depictions of real historical events or simply 
generalized representations of myth and ritu¬ 
al.The distinction between myth, ritual and 
history in Egyptian art is a problem that per¬ 
sists throughout the Pharaonic period. 

The essential elements of the art of the Old 
Kingdom (2686-2181 bc) were the funerary 
sculpture and painted reliefs of the royal fam¬ 
ily and the provincial elite, along with the 
remains of the earliest sun temples (see ABU 
GURAB and iieliopolis) and the shrines of local 
deities. One of the most impressive statues of 
the Old Kingdom is the diorite statue of a 
seated figurer of khafra, builder of the second 
pyramid at Giza, which was found in die val¬ 
ley temple of his funerary complex. On the 
simplest level the statue is a portrait of a pow¬ 
erful individual, but it is also made up of sym¬ 
bols that relate to the general role of the 
pharaoh. His head and neck are physically 
embraced by the wings of a hawk representing 
HORUS, the divine counterpart of the mortal 
ruler. His throne is decorated on either side 
with a complex design consisting of the hiero¬ 
glyph meaning ‘union’ tied up with the ten¬ 
drils of the plants representing Upper and 
Lower Egypt, the whole symbolizing the uni¬ 
fied state over which he rules. In the same way, 
an alabaster statue of the 6th-Dynasty ruler 
pepy i (2321-2287 bc:) has the rear of the 
throne carved to imitate a SEREKH with I lorus 
perched on the top; viewed from the front, on 
the other hand, Horus stands protectively 
behind the king, himself the living god. The 
best Egyptian art achieves a synthesis of the 
real and the ideal. 

At the end of the Old Kingdom the provin¬ 
cial governors’ tombs became more richly dec¬ 
orated and the royal tombs grew correspond- 




ingly smaller. This decline in the power of the 
pharaohs resulted in the so-called First 
Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc), when no 
single ruler was strong enough to dominate 
the whole country. During this comparatively 
unstable and decentralized period, the provin¬ 
cial workshops at sites such as el-mo‘alla and 
GEBELEIN began to create distinctive funerary 
decoration and equipment rather than being 
influenced by the artists at the royal court, as 
they were in the Old Kingdom and the late 
Middle Kingdom. 

The art of the Middle Kingdom 
(2055—1650 bc) is exemplified both by the 
fragments of relief from the roval pyramid 
complexes at DAHSHUR, EL-LISIIT, EL-l.AHLN 
and HAWARA and by the spacious tombs of the 
governors buried at beni hasan in Middle 
Egypt. In the latter, the traditional scenes of 
the deceased receiving offerings or hunting 
and fishing in the marshes are joined by large- 
scale depictions of wrestling and warfare (per¬ 
haps copied from Old Kingdom royal proto¬ 
types). The history of the Middle Kingdom is 
very much characterized by a tension between 
the artistic styles of the various provincial sites 
(principally funerary art at Beni Hasan, 
EL-BERSIIA, mkir and asylt) and the styles of 
the royal workshops at Itjtawv, a new capital 
established in the vicinity of el-Lisht. By the 
late Middle Kingdom the distinctive provin¬ 
cial styles had been eclipsed by the art of the 
royal Residence, a process which can be traced 
both in the development of funerary equip¬ 
ment (from coffins to ceramics) and in the 
quality and locations of provincial governors’ 

In the late seventeenth century bc Asiatic 
rulers (the i ivksos) gained control of a consid¬ 
erable area of Egypt, which they governed 
from their strongholds in the Delta. The 
works of art surviving from the temples and 
cities of this phase show that they simply re¬ 
used and copied traditional Egyptian sculp¬ 
tures and reliefs in order to strengthen their 
claims to the throne. There were, however, 
increasing links with the Mediterranean 
world, and excavations at the 1 Ivksos capital of 
Avaris (tell fa-dab‘a) have revealed Minoan- 
style paintings suggesting close contacts with 
the people of Crete. 

After the expulsion of the 1 Ivksos, Egypt 
became firmly established as a major power in 
the Near East; the fruits of conquest and 
international commerce, from foreign 
princesses to exotic spices, flowed irresistibly 
into the Nile valley. The scale and opulence of 
the temples and tombs of this period could not 
fail to reflect such an influx of people, com¬ 
modities and ideas. 

Statue of Khaemwasel, a son of Raineses it, 
holding two standards. The sculptor has had only 
partial success in carving a difficult band of pebbly 
stone across the chest. 19th Dynasty, c. 1240 bc, 
sandstone conglomerate, from Karnak, //. 1.46 m. 

The art of imperial Egypt ranged from the 
funerary temples of Queen HATSHEPSUT 
(1473-1458 bc) and rameses rt (1279-1213 bc) 
to the more intimate details of the artisans’ 
painted tombs at ki.-MEDINA. The tombs 
in the valley of THE kings and the temples of 
BAIIRJ have done much to establish the city of 
Thebes as the centre of the New Kingdom 
empire. The seat of power, however, was actu¬ 
ally the northern city of' Memphis, near mod¬ 
ern Cairo, where the royal Residence was 
located. Excavations during the 1970s and 
1980s at the New Kingdom necropolis of 
Memphis (particularly the tombs of the mili¬ 
tary commander iioremiif.b, the treasurer 
Maya and the vizier Aper-el) and epigraphic 
work in the remains of the magnificent temple 
of Ptah have begun to redress the balance in 
favour of Memphis. 

The style of art that emerged during the so- 
called amarna period, which roughly corre¬ 
sponded to the reign of akhenaten 
(1352-1336 bc), deserves special mention. The 
painting, relief and statuary of this period 
were all characterized by an obsessive empha¬ 
sis on the god \tf.\ and the royal family, with 
the king and his family sometimes being 

shown in unusually intimate scenes. Both the 
king and his subjects were represented with 
unusual facial and bodily features, and a new 
canon of proportions served to exaggerate 
these physical extremes. 

After the end of the New Kingdom, the 
rapidly changing artistic styles of the first mil¬ 
lennium bc demonstrate, above all, that 
Egyptian art could assimilate new possibilities 
while retaining its essential character and 
integrity. The Egyptians of the Late Period 
(747—332 bc), under attack from all sides, 
attempted to revive the classic images of the 
Old and Middle Kingdoms, which must have 
symbolized a lost sense of stability and cer¬ 
tainty amid the political turmoil. The green 
basalt statue of the naval officer Udjahorresnet 
demonstrates that the native Egyptian officials 
were as adaptable as their works of art; it bears 
a detailed description of his activities both in 
the reigns of the native Egyptian kings ahmose 
ii (570-526 bc) and psamtek hi (526-525 bc:) 
and in the ensuing period of Persian rule, 
when he served under Darius I (522—+86 bc) 
(see PERSIA). 

After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander 
the GREAT (332-323 bc), the nature of 
Pharaonic art was adapted to create a compro¬ 
mise between the needs of the native 
Egyptians and the preferences of the new 
Ptolemaic (and later Roman) rulers. Some of 
the largest surviving religious buildings - the 
temple of Isis at philae and that of Horus at 
Edfu - were constructed during this period of 
over seven hundred years, but the reliefs were 
beginning to appear mass-produced and 
repetitive. Although such Greco-Roman 
reliefs were increasingly poorly formulated 
and executed, suggesting an Egyptian priest¬ 
hood that was descending into obscurantism 
and uncertainty, there are nevertheless indica¬ 
tions of a skilful patterning of text and icon¬ 
ography which helps to compensate for the 
apparent aesthetic decline. At the same time, 
however, there were new cultural elements 
absorbed into Egypt from the Mediterranean 
world, from the eayl m mummy paintings 
(wooden funerary portraits painted in a mix¬ 
ture of wax and pigment known as encaustic) 
to the civic architecture of cities such as 
Alexandria and Antinoopolis. 

From the Middle Ages onwards, after cen¬ 
turies in the shadows, Egyptian art was gradu¬ 
ally rediscovered by Arab and European trav¬ 
ellers. After the sixteenth century there were 
European revivals of Egyptian artistic and 
architectural styles. Specific events produced 
waves of public reaction and interest: the 
influence of Howard Carter’s discovery of the 
tomb ofTutankhamun on the art and design of 


ashmunein, el- 


Europe in the 1920s is well known, hut com¬ 
parable levels of interest were also provoked by 
the re-erection of the Vatican obelisk at St 
Peter’s in 1586. Similarly, the Napoleonic 
campaigns in Egypt and the publication of the 
work of his savants (see Egyptology) gave rise 
to Egyptianizing decorative art. The arrival in 
London of the 'Younger Memnon’ (the upper 
section of a colossal statue of rameses 11 ) in 
1818 and the opening of the Egyptian Court at 
Crystal Palace in 1854 were also important 
events in terms of the western reaction to 
Egyptian art. For discussion of Egyptian 
architecture see palaces; pyramids; temples; 
tombs; towns. 

K. Lange and M. Hirmer, Egypt: architecture , 
sculpture ami painting in three thousand years 
(London, 1968). 

H. Schafer, Principles of Egyptian art , trans. 

J. Baines (Oxford, 1974). 

CAldred, Egyptian art (London, 1980). 

W. Stevenson Smith, The art and architecture of 
ancient Egypt , 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth, 1981). 

T. G. LI. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian 
sculpture (London, 1983). 

T. G. H. James, Egyptian painting (London, 


G. Robins, Proportion and style in ancient 
Egyptian art (London, 1994). 

Ashmunein, el- see hermopolis magna 

Asia, western 

Geographical area to the east of the sinai 
peninsula and the Red Sea, comprising 
Mesopotamia, Arabia, Anatolia and the 
Levant. At least as early as the Predynastic 
period, Egypt was already trading with these 
areas in order to obtain such raw materials as 
wood, copper, silver and certain semi-precious 
stones that were not available in Egypt. The 
Egyptians’ principal export to western Asia 
appears to have been gold, obtained from 
mines in the Eastern Desert and Nubia. 

The relationship between the two regions 
was not always an amicable one, and the fertil¬ 
ity of the Nile valley made Egypt constantly 
attractive to settlers from the less prosperous 
lands of western Asia. The Egyptians’ general¬ 
ly contemptuous view of the Asiatics is exem¬ 
plified by the Instruction for King Merikara 
dating to the First Intermediate Period: ‘Lo, 
the miserable Asiatic, he is wretched because 
of the place he is in; short of water, bare of 
wood, its paths are many and painful because 
of mountains.’ The ‘miserable Asiatics’ com¬ 
prised not merely the nomadic BEDOUIN 
(Shasu) but also the more settled peoples 
of Syria—Palestine, and although Egyptian 
paintings and sculptures generally portrayed 

Fragment of wall-painting from the tomb of 
Sobekholep at Thebes , showing Asiatic envoys 
bringing gifts to Thutmose tv. 18th Dynasty, e .1400 
bc, painted plaster, II. 1.14 m. (ea379910) 

the Asiatic as a tribute-bearer or bound cap¬ 
tive, the real relationship must have been a 
more complex amalgam of diplomatic and eco¬ 
nomic links. 

The 18th-Dvnastv pharaohs extended the 
Egyptian ‘empire’ (perhaps better described as 
‘sphere of influence’) in western Asia as far as 
the Euphrates, leading to the influx of many 
foreign materials, goods and ideas, from the 
introduction of glass to the use of the 
cuneiform script in diplomatic correspon¬ 
dence (see amarna letters). Gradually, how¬ 
ever, the Asiatic territories broke away from 
Egypt and new powers arose such as the nri - 
tites, Assyrians and Persians, the two latter 
powers eventually conquering not only the 
Levant but Egypt itself. 

M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia and the 
ancient Near East (Oxford, 1990). 


People inhabiting the north-eastern area of 
Mesopotamia, centred on the city of Assur 
overlooking the Tigris. They embarked on a 
period of imperial expansion between the early 
second and early first millennia bc, most 
notably from 883 to 612 bc. In 671 bc, during 
the reign of Esarhaddon (681—669 bc), they 

invaded Egypt, having been stung by the 
Egyptians’ repeated incitement of trouble 
among the Assyrian vassal-towns in the 
Levant. On this occasion, however, they soon 
withdrew, allowing the 25th-Dvnasty Kushite 
pharaoh Taharqo (690-664 bc) to regain power 
temporarily. In 669 bc the new Assyrian ruler, 
Ashurbanipal, launched a new campaign into 
Egypt, culminating in the execution of the 
rulers of the various small Delta kingdoms, 
leaving only NEKAU I of Sais to rule the coun¬ 
try (or Lower Egypt at least) on Assyria’s 
behalf. In 664 BC Tanutamani, the successor of 
Taharqo, succeeded to the throne of Kush and 
immediately laid claim to Egypt. Proceeding 
north, he was actively welcomed at Aswan and 
Thebes, and then marched on Memphis 
which he took, slaying Nekau i in the process. 

Ashurbanipal retaliated in 664/3 bc, recap¬ 
turing Memphis and finally sacking Thebes and 
looting its temples, although Tanutamani man¬ 
aged to escape to Nubia, psamtek i (664-610 
bc), son of Nekau I, was placed in charge of the 
country, purportedly as an Assyrian vassal, but 
actually as an independent ruler. He continued 
his father’s delicate policy of encouraging 
native Egyptian revival while avoiding con- 
fliet with his nominal overlords. This period of 
revitalization ended with the invasion of the 
Persian king Cambyses in 525 bc. The Assyrian 
policy of appointing local vassal kings seems to 
have minimized their impact on the society and 
economy of the Egyptians, particularly when 




compared with the effects of the Persian, 
Ptolemaic and Roman regimes. 

D. OATES, Studies in the undent history of northern 
Iraq (London, 1968), 19-41 [the early 
development of Assyria]. 

A. J. SPALINGER, ‘Assurbanipal and Egypt: a 
source study’, JfAOS 94 (1974), 316-28. 

—, ‘Esarhaddon and Egypt: an analysis of the 
first invasion of Egypt’, Orientalia 43 (1974), 

N. Grimai., A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 341-5. 

A relief block from the palace ofAshurbanipal 
(c .645 bc), showing the Assyrian army attacking 
an Egyptian town. it. 1.14 m. (ml24928) 


War-goddess of Syrian origin, probably intro¬ 
duced into Egypt in the 18th Dynasty 
(1550-1295 bc), usually portrayed as a naked 
woman on horseback wearing a headdress 
consisting of the atef crown or bull horns. She 
was adopted into the Egyptian pantheon as a 
daughter of RA (or sometimes of PTAll) and one 
of the consorts of SETH, and she was particu¬ 
lar!} linked with equestrian and chariotry 
skills; like ANAT (another Syrian goddess wor¬ 
shipped in Egypt) she was considered to pro¬ 
tect the pharaoh’s chariot in battle. A stele of 
Amenhotep it near the Great Sphinx at Giza, 
recording her delight in the young king’s rid¬ 
ing skills, is probably the earliest surviving 
Egyptian textual reference to Astarte. 

|. Lr.CL.ANT, ‘Astarte a cheval d’apres les 
representations egyptiennes’, Syria 37 (I960), 

R. Stadelmann, Syrisch-palastinische Gottheiten 
in Agypten (Leiden, 1967), 101-10. 

astronomy and astrology 

The Egyptians often decorated the ceilings of 
their temples, tombs and coffins with depic¬ 
tions of the heavens, since most funerary and 

religious entities were regarded as microcosms 
of the universe itself. Just as the sky-goddess 
nut was thought to spread her star-studded 
body over the earth, so she was also considered 
to stretch herself protectively over mummies 
and the houses of the gods. In the Old 
Kingdom, from the reign of the 5th-Dynasty 
pharaoh Unas (2375-2345 bc.) onwards, the 
belief that mortals could be reborn in the form 
of the circumpolar stars led to the depiction of 
large numbers of stars on the ceilings of the 
corridors and chambers of pyramids. Indeed, 
one of the utterances in the pyramid texts was 
a request for Nut to spread herself over the 
deceased so that he might be ‘placed among the 
imperishable stars’ and have eternal life. 

The astronomical knowledge of the 
Egyptian priests and architects at this time is 
indicated by early examples of the ceremony 
of pedj shes (‘stretching the cord’), first attest¬ 
ed on a granite block of the reign of the 2nd- 
Dynasty king Khasekhemwy (c2686 bc). 
This method relied on sightings of the Great 
Bear and Orion (see sah) constellations, 
using an ‘instrument of knowing’ ( merkhet ), 
which was similar in function to an astrolabe, 
and a sighting tool made from the central rib 
of a palm leaf, thus aligning the foundations 
of the pyramids and sun temples with the 
cardinal points, usually achieving an error of 
less than half a degree. Although the texts 
and reliefs in temples of later periods contin¬ 
ued to describe the enactment of this pro¬ 
cedure (as in the temple of Horus at edfu), it 
appears to have become a mere ceremony and 
in practice the temples were simply aligned 
in relation to the river. 

The earliest detailed texts relating to 
astronomy arc the ‘diagonal calendars’ or ‘star 
clocks’ painted on wooden coffin lids of the 
early Middle Kingdom and also of the Late 
Period. These calendars consisted of thirty-six 
columns, listing the thirty-six groups of stars 
(‘decans’) into which the night sky was divid¬ 

ed. Each specific decan rose above the horizon 
at dawn for an annual period of ten days. The 
brightest of these was the dog star Sirius 
(known to the Egyptians as the goddess 
sopdet), whose ‘heliacal rising’ on about 19 
July coincided with the annual Nile inunda¬ 
tion and therefore appears to have been 
regarded as an astronomical event of some 
importance. The god sah, the mythical con¬ 
sort of Sopdet, was the personification of 
another decan, the constellation of Orion. 

The calendrical system based on decans was 
flawed by its failure to take into account the 
fact that the Egyptian year was always about 
six hours short, adding up to a slippage of ten 
days every forty years. It is therefore unlikely 
that the Middle Kingdom ‘star clocks’ were 
ever regarded as a practical means of measur¬ 
ing time. Nevertheless, the decans were later 
depicted on the ceilings of tombs and temples, 
starting with the tomb of senen.yiut in west¬ 
ern Thebes (tt353; c.1460 bc). The ‘astro¬ 
nomical ceilings’ in the Osireion of Sety l at 
abydos (c. 1290 bc), and the tomb of ramesen 
iv (kv2) (cl 150 bc) in the Valley of the Kings, 
include cosmological texts describing the peri¬ 
od of seventy days spent in the underworld by 
each decan. 

Interior of the lid of the wooden coffin oJ'Soter, 
showing Nut flanked by signs of the zodiac and 
personifications of the 24 hours of the day. Roman 
period, 2nd century in, from Abd el-Qiirna, 
Thebes, l. 2.13 m. (ea6705) 


as tronomy and astrology 


From at least as early as the Middle 
Kingdom the Egyptians recognized five of the 
planets, portraying them as deities sailing 
across the heavens in barks. These ‘stars that 
know no rest’ were Jupiter (Horus who limits 
the two lands), Mars (Horus of the horizon or 
Horus the red), Mercury (Sebegu, a god asso¬ 
ciated with seth), Saturn (Horus, bull of the 
skv) and Venus (‘the one who crosses’ or ‘god 
of the morning’). 

The ceilings of many royal tombs in the 
Valley of the Kings were decorated with 
depictions of the heavens. In the tombs of 
Rameses vi, vn and ix (kv9, kyI and kv 6 
respectively), dating to the second half of the 
twelfth century bc, a set of twenty-four seated 
figures representing stars were transected by 
grids of horizontal and vertical lines, allowing 
the passage of time to be measured in terms of 
the transits of stars through the sky. 

The concept of the horoscope (the belief 
that the stars could influence human destiny) 
does not seem to have reached Egypt until 
the Ptolemaic period. By the first century ad 
the Babylonian zodiac, represented on the 
ceiling of the chapel of Osiris on the roof of 
the temple of Hathor at DENDERA, had been 
adopted. The surviving lists of lucky and 
unlucky days appear to have had no connec¬ 
tion with astrology, deriving instead from the 
intricacies of religious festivals and mytho¬ 
logical events. 

Z. Zaba, Vorientation astronomique dans 
Vancienne Egypte , et la precession de I’axe du monde 
(Prague, 1953). 

O. NEUGEBAUER and R. Parker, ‘Two demotic 
horoscopes’, jfEA 54 (1968), 231-5. 

—, Egyptian astronomical texts , 3 vols 
(Providence, 1969). 

R. Parker, ‘Ancient Egyptian astronomy’, 
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of 
London 276 (1974), 51-65. 

Stele ofSenusret ill from Elephantine, describing 
the building of a fortress at the site. 12th Dynasty, 
c. 1874-1855 itc, h. 37 cm. (f.a852) 

right Plan of the Aswan region. 

bei.ow /it Aswan the Qubbet el-Hama (the Dome 
of the Winds) is actually the Islamic tomb seen on 
top of this hill on the west bank, but is widely used 
to refer to the area of Old Kingdom tombs cut into 
the hillside. The entrances to several of these can be 
seen midway up the slope. ( P. T. NICHOLSON) 

1 modern Aswan 

2 Qubbet el-Hawa 
rock tombs 

3 rock tombs 

4 island of Elephantine 

5 temple of Satis 

6 Nilometer 

7 temple of Khnum 

8 Roman temple 

9 Ptolemaic temple 

10 unfinished obelisk 

11 northern quarries 

12 island of Sehel 

13 temple 

14 famine stele 

15 First Aswan Dam 

16 southern quarries 

17 island of Aqilqiyya 
(current site of Philae 

18 island of Philae 

19 temple on the 
island of Biga 

20 island of el-Hesa 

21 High Dam 

22 NewKalabsha 

1 2 3 4 km 

G. R. Hughes, ‘An astrologer’s handbook in 
demotic Egyptian’, Egyptological studies in honor 
ofR. A. Parker , ed. L. H. Lcsko (Hanover and 
London, 1986), 53-69. 

H. Beinlich, ‘Stern’, Lexikon der Agyptologie vi, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1986), 11-14. 

Aswan (anc. Swenct, Syene) 

Site in Upper Egypt, situated immediately to 
the north of the first Nile cataract, now at the 
northern tip of Lake Nasser. It consists of 
three basic components: the town, temples 
and granite quarries of Aswan proper on the 




eastern bank of the Nile; the rock-cut tombs of 
Qubbet el-Hawa on the western bank; and the 
town, temples and nilometer of Elephantine, 
an island in the centre of the river. Apart from 
two small Greco-Roman temples there are few 
surviving remains of Aswan itself since the 
area has continued to be occupied up to mod¬ 
ern times. The tombs of the governors of 
Aswan, at Qubbet el-Hawa, which date mainly 
to the Old and Middle Kingdoms (2686-1650 
B(;), contain important biographical reliefs and 
inscriptions. The island of Elephantine has 
been excavated by a German team since the 
1970s; their results show the steady expansion 
of the settlement from a small Early Dynastic 
village and temple to the much larger town of 
the Roman period. 

E. Edel, Die Felsengrdber dcr Qubbet el-Hawa bei 
Assuan (Wiesbaden, 1967-). 

E. BresOANI and S. Pi.rnigotti, Assuan: il 
tempio lolemaico ili Isi. I blocchi decorati e iscritti 
(Pisa, 1978). 

Aswan High Dam 

An extensive artificial reservoir was created in 
Lower Nubia, when the first Aswan dam was 
constructed (and heightened in three phases) 
between 1902 and 1933, necessitating a cam¬ 
paign to survey Nubian sites before they were 
submerged. When work began on the new 
Aswan High Dam in 1960, the creat ion of Lake 
Nasser, one of the largest reservoirs in the 
world, was initiated. A UNESCO-co-ordinated 
operation was therefore launched, not only to 
record the Nubian monuments threatened by 
this much more extensive flooding but also to 
dismantle and move certain monuments 
(including, ABU SIMBEL and kai.absjia) 
to higher ground before the completion of the 
dam in 1971. 

A. E. WeIGAI J,, Report on the antiquities of Lower 
Nubia (Cairo, 1907). 

T. Sav e-Soderbergh (ed.). Temples and tombs of 
ancient Nubia (London, 1987). 

Asyut (anc. Djawty; Lykopolis) 

Capital of the thirteenth Upper Egyptian 
nome (province), located roughly midway 
between Cairo and Aswan. Despite numerous 
textual references to the importance of the 
Pharaonic town of Asyut and its temple of the 
jackal-god wf.pwawkt, the excavated remains 
arc restricted primarily to the rock-tombs of 
the local elite, dating from the 9th Dynasty to 
the Ramessidc period (r.2 160-1069 bc). The 
biographical texts on the walls of the First 
Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom 
rock-tombs provide historical information on 
the struggle between the rulers of herak- magxa and tiiebes. The tomb of the 

12th-Dynasty nomarch Djefahapv contains 
uniquely detailed legal texts of endowment 
and was later re-used as a cult centre of 

F. L. Griffith, The inscriptions of Siut and Der 
Rifeh (London, 1889). 

G. A. Reisner, ‘The tomb of Hcpzcfa, nomarch 
of Siut \ fMA 5 (1919), 79-98. 

II. Thompson, A family archive from Siut 
(Oxford, 1934). 


Deity represented in the form of the disc or 
orb of the sun, the cult of which was particu¬ 
larly promoted during the reigns of 
Amenhotep iv/akiienaten (1352-1336 bc.) 

Akhenatcn (left) and Nefertiti (right) worship the 
Aten (top left), whose rays end in hands, some of 
them extending to the offerings piled in front of 
Akhenaten. The figures are heavily damaged, 
partly due to defects in the stone and partly as a 
result of the reaction against the so-called heresy of 
Akhenaten. f rom the tomb of Tutu (ea8) in the 
southern group of Amarna. (p. r. Nicholson) 

and Smenkhkara (1338—1336 bc). The close 
links between the disc and the sun-god have 
led to some uncertainty as to whether the Aten 
was treated as a divine being in its own right. 
There is also a certain amount of evidence to 
suggest that Akhenaten may even have equat¬ 
ed the Aten with his own father, amenhotep hi 
(1390-1352 bc). Earlier pharaohs had been 
associated with the Aten, as in the case of 

THUTMOSE i (1504-1492 bc), who was por¬ 
trayed in his temple atTombos in Nubia wear¬ 
ing the sun-disc and followed by the hiero¬ 
glyphic sign for ‘god’. 

The popularity of the Aten slowly grew 
throughout the New Kingdom and the char¬ 
acteristic iconography of the disc w ith rays in 
the form of outstretched arms had already 
appeared in the time of Amenhotep n 
(1427-1400 bc). The Aten w-as particularly 
favoured by Amenhotep m (1390-1352 BC), 
during whose reign there is evidence of the 
presence of priests of Aten at (the 
traditional centre of the worship of the 
sun-god ra). He also incorporated references 
to the Aten in the names he gave to his palace 
at malkata, a division of his army and a 
pleasure boat. 

However, it was under Amenhotep i\ that 
the cult of the Aten reached its peak. On his 
accession as sole ruler, the Aten became the 
‘sole’ god, and a temple, the Per-Aten, was 
built on the perimeter of the temple of Amun 
at KARNAK. This included at least three sanctu¬ 
aries, one of which was called the Hyy t-benben 
(‘mansion of the benben’). Within a short time 
the cult of Amun appears to have been severe¬ 
ly curtailed and eventually proscribed, and the 
Aten began to be promoted as the sole, exclu¬ 
sive deity. 

Around the fifth year of his reign, 
Amenhotep iv took the next logical step, which 
was to create a ncyv capital city with its own 
temples dedicated to the cult of the Aten. He 
called this new foundation Akhetatcn (‘the 
horizon of the disc’) and located it in a virgin 
site in Middle Egypt that was untainted by the 
worship of other gods (see hi -amarna). The 
king changed his name and titles from 
Amenhotep to Akhenaten, although elements 
of his titles which already concerned the sun- 
god (rather than Amun) yvere left unchanged. 
His acknowledgement of the cults of the sun- 
god included the provision of a burial place 
for a mnevis bull (the physical manifestation 
of Ra) at el-Amarna, although this tomb 
remains undiscovered and was perhaps never 
completed. Although Akhenaten is sometimes 
regarded as the first proponent of monothe¬ 
ism, his relationship to the cult of the Aten 
and the rest of the Egyptian pantheon must be 
regarded firmly in the context of his time. Erik 
Hornung’s view of the cult of the Aten as a 
form of henotheism, in which one god was 
effectively elevated above many others, is 
probably closer to the mark. 

Two major temples to the Aten yvere built 
at el-Amarna, although, unlike major Theban 
temples, they were built largely of mud- 
brick, perhaps yvith the intention of later 




rebuilding them in stone. The Per-Aten, 
described by its excavators as the Great 
Temple, was an open, unroofed structure 
covering an area of about 800 x 300 m at the 
northern end of the central city. The Hwt- 
Aten (literally ‘mansion of the Aten’ but usu¬ 
ally described by the excavators as the Small 
Aten Temple) was a smaller building but of 
similar design; both were strewn with offer¬ 
ing tables, and the first court of the small 
temple contained a massive mud-brick altar, 
which may have been one of the first monu¬ 
ments to be erected in the new city. 

Many of the rock-tombs of the elite at el- 
Amama, which were excavated at the northern 
and southern ends of the bay of cliffs to the east 
of the city, have prayers to the Aten inscribed 
on the jambs of their doorways. Most of these 
prayers appear to be extracts from a longer 
composition, the Hymn to the Aten which 
some scholars believe to have been composed 
by Akhenaten himself. The most complete 
surviving version of this hymn was inscribed 
in the tomb of ay , ‘superintendent of the royal 
horses’, who was probably the brother of 
Queen tiy (Akhenaten’s mother) and later 
succeeded tutankiiamun on the throne. This 
hymn, which has several antecedents in earlier 
18th-Dvnasty hymns to the sun-god, has been 
compared with the Biblical Psalm 104, 
although the distinct parallels between the two 
are usually interpreted simply as indications of 
the common literary heritage of Egypt and 
ISRAEL. The hymn also stresses Akhenaten’s 
role as intermediary between the Aten and the 
populace, by which means he perhaps hoped 
to avoid the creation of a strong priesthood 
such as that of Amun. There was rigid official 
adherence to the cult of the Aten among the 
elite at el-Amarna, many of whom built 
shrines dedicated to the new royal family and 
the Aten in the gardens of their villas. It is 
clear, however, that traditional religious cults 
continued to be observed, perhaps covertly, 
even among the inhabitants of the city at cl- 
Amarna itself. Tn the ‘workmen’s village’, on 
the eastern edge of the city, numerous amulets 
of traditional gods have been found, as well as 
small private chapels probably dedicated to 
ancestor worship and showing no traces of the 
official religion. 

On Akhenaten’s death there was a reversion 
to the worship of Amun, and attempts were 
made to remove all traces of the cult of the 
Aten. The city at el-Amarna was abandoned 
and, perhaps as early as the reign of horemtieb 
(1323-1295 bc), it began to be demolished, 
often leaving only the plaster foundations of 
the ceremonial buildings. The stone talatat 
blocks from the temples of the Aten were then 

re-used, primarily as rubble filling the pylons 
of new temples dedicated to the traditional 
official cults. In the reliefs at el-Amarna and 
other sites, the names and faces of Akhenaten, 
his queen nefkrtiti and all those associated 
with this ‘heresy’ were defaced in the after- 
math of the Amarna period. 

A. Piankoi'f, ‘Les grandes compositions 
rcligieuses du Nouvel Empire et la reforme 
d’Amarna’, BIFAO 62 (1964), 207-18. 

D. B. Redford, ‘The sun-disc in Akhenaten’s 
program: its worship and its antecedents, i\ 
jfARCE 13 (1976), 47-61. 

—, ‘The sun-disc in Akhenaten’s program: its 
worship and its antecedents, u\ jfARCE 17 
(1982), 21-38. 

—, Akhenaten the heretic king (Princeton, 1984), 

C. Aldred, Akhenaten, king of Egypt (London, 
1988), 237-48. 

Athribis see tell atrib 

Atrib, Tell (anc. Hwt-Hervib, Athribis) 

Town site in the central Delta region near the 
modern town of Benha, about 40 km north of 
Cairo. It has been greatly reduced over the 
years through local farmers’ large-scale 
removal of sebakh (ancient mud-brick re-used 
as fertilizer), although in 1924, in the course of 
such plundering, a large cache of jewellery 
dating to the Late Period (747—332 bc) was 
discovered. A Polish archaeological expedition 
under the direction of Pascal Vernus excavated 
part/of the post-Pharaonic town during the 
1980s and 1990s. 

According to surviving texts, Tell Atrib was 
occupied at least as early as the 4th Dynasty 
(2613—2494 bc), but no remains earlier than 
the 12th Dynasty (1985-1795 bc) have been 
found. The principal god worshipped in the 
Athribis region was I lorus Khenty-khetv, rep¬ 
resented sometimes as a falcon-headed man 
and sometimes as a crocodile. The major mon¬ 
uments at the site were a temple dating to the 
time of ahmose rt (570-526 bc), the tomb of 
Queen Takhut (r.590 bc) and a large settle¬ 
ment and cemetery of the Ptolemaic and 
Roman periods (332 bc-ao 395). 

The texts indicate that there was once also 
an important temple of Amenhotep m 
(1390-1352 bc) at the site, perhaps because 
this was the home-town of the influential chief 
architect, amenhotep son of hapu. Although 
nothing remains of the temple in situ , it would 
probably have incorporated the statue of a lion 
now in the collection of the British Museum, 
which is inscribed with the name of Rameses a 
(1279-1213 bc), although it originally bore the 
cartouche of Amenhotep ill. This sculpture is 

similar in appearance to a pair of lions of the 
reign of Amenhot ep in from solkb. 

A. Row., ‘Short report on the excavations of the 
Institute of Archaeology Liverpool at Athribis 
(Tell Atrib)’, ASAE 38 (1938), 523-32. 

P. Vernus, Athribis: lextesel documents relalifs a la 
geographic , aux cultes et a I'histoire d'une ville du 
Della egyptien a Eepoquepharaonique (Cairo, 

K. Mysliwiec andT. IIerbicii, ‘Polish 
archaeological activities at Tell Atrib in 1985’, 

The archaeology of the Nile Delta: problems and 
priorities , ed. E. C. M. van den Brink 
(Amsterdam, 1988), 177-203. 


Creator-god and solar deity of iieliopolis, 
where he was gradually syncretized with the 
sun-god ra, to form the god Ra-Atum. 
According to the Heliopolitan theology, Atum 
came into being before heaven and earth were 
separated, rising up from nun, the waters of 
chaos, to form the primeval mound. His name 
means ‘the all’, signifying his creation and 
summation of all that exists. 

Atum’s creation of the universe was concep¬ 
tualized in terms of a family of nine gods known 
as the Heliopolitan ennead. Thus the two off¬ 
spring of Atum, si it (air) and tefnut (mois¬ 
ture), became the parents of geb (earth) and 
NUT (sky), and the grandparents of osiris, isis, 
SET! i and nepi m iys. Atum was said to have pro¬ 
duced Shu and Tefnut by copulating with his 
hand or, according to other sources, spitting 
them into being. 'There has been some debate as 
to whether Atum’s act of procreation constitut¬ 
ed masturbation or copulation, in that his hand 
seems to have represented the female principle. 
Both Atum and his hand were therefore por¬ 
trayed as a divine couple on coffins of the First 
Intermediate Period. Similarly, the title ‘god’s 
hand’ was adopted by Theban priestesses sup¬ 
posedly married to the god \mun. 

Atum was regarded as a protective deity, 
particularly associated with the rituals of king- 
ship. It was Atum who lifted the dead king 
from his pyramid to the heavens in order to 
transform him into a star-god, and in later 
times he protected the deceased during the 
journey through the underworld. 

He is usually depicted as an anthropomor¬ 
phic deity often wearing the double crown. 
The animals particularly sacred to him were 
the lion, the bull, the ichneumon and the 
lizard, while he was also believed to be mani¬ 
fested in the scarab, which emerged from its 
ball of dung just as atum appeared from the 
primeval mound. Sometimes he was portrayed 
in the essentially primordial form of a snake, 
which was the appearance that he was expect- 




Detail of the funerary stele of 
Pediamennebnesuttawy, showing the deceased (on 
the Jar right) worshipping the sun-god in three 
separate forms: Ra-Horakhty, Alum (third from 
the right, wearing the double crown) and Khepri 
(with a scarab beetle on his head), followed by the 
funerary deities Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and the 
jackal-headed Anubis. 30th Dynasty or early 
Ptolemaic period, 4th-3rd centuries bc, painted 
plaster on wood, from Thebes, it. 74 cm. (t: i8462) 

ed to adopt when the cosmos finally collapsed, 
returning everything to its original primeval 

K. Seti n:, ’Atum als Ichneumon’, ZAS 63 
(1928), 50-3. 

E. Brlnner-Traut, ‘Atum als Bogenschiitze’, 
MDAIK 14 (1956), 20-8. 

P. Derqiain, ‘Le demiurge et la balance’, 
Religions en Egypte hellenistique et romaine: 
colloque de Strasbourg (Paris, 1969), 31—4. 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 43-7. 

autobiographies see literature 
Avaris see tell ei-dab‘a 
Ay (1327-1323 bc) 

Late 18th-Dynastv ruler who came to the 
throne after the short reign of tutanki iamun 
(1336-1327 bc). In his earlier career he was 
an important official during the reign of 
AKHENATEN (1352-1336 BC). Like YUYA, the 
father of Queen tiy, he came from akiimim 
and held the titles ‘superintendent of the royal 
horses’ and ‘god’s father’; it has therefore been 

argued that he may well have been Tiy’s 
brother, Akhenaten’s uncle and perhaps uncle 
or great-uncle of Tutankhamun. It has even 
been suggested that the unusual office of 
‘god’s father’ could be held only by the king’s 
father-in-law, which might have made Ay the 
father of nefertitl 

Whatever the truth behind these theories, 
there is good evidence to show that he was 
closely involved in the events of the Amarna 
period, and had begun to construct one of the 
largest tombs at ei -amarna, containing the 
longer of the two surviving versions of the 
Hymn to the Aten (see aten). The last decora¬ 
tion in Ay’s el-Amarna tomb seems to have 
taken place in the ninth year of Akhenaten’s 
reign. The progress of his career between then 
and the end of Akhenaten’s reign is known 
from a number of inscribed funerary items, 
showing that he rose to the position of vizier 
and royal chancellor, as well as acquiring the 
unusual epithet, ‘doer of right’. 

After the reigns of Akhenaten and 
Smenkhkara both Tutankhamun and Ay began 
to reform the religious heresies of the Amarna 
period but, because of Ay’s close connections 
with his predecessors, his reign of four or five 
years is usually regarded as a continuation of 
the same grip on the throne. On the wall of 
the burial chamber of the illustrious smaller 
tomb in which Tutankhamun was actually 
buried, Ay is depicted as the loyal heir admin¬ 
istering the final rituals to the royal mummy. 
The real break was to come with the reign of 
his successor, the general iioremheb, who had 
no family links with the Thutmosid royal 
family (except possibly through his wife 

Abandoning his unfinished tomb at el- 
Amama, Ay usurped a second tomb in a west¬ 
ern branch of the valley of tiie kings (kv 23 ), 
which had probably been intended for 
Tutankhamun (and was perhaps originally the 
tomb of Prince Thutmose, who predeceased 
his father Amenhotep in). The scenes in the 
tomb portray him with his first wife Tev rather 
than Ankhesenpaaten, one of the daughters of 
Akhenaten, whom he is thought to have mar¬ 
ried 7 in order to consolidate his claim to the 
throne. One unique feature of this tomb is the 
presence of a scene of hunting in the marshes, 
which was usually found in nobles’ tombs 
rather than the burial place of a pharaoh. 

N. de Garis Day ies. The rock tombs of el-Amarna 
vi (London, 1908), 16-24,28-35. 

P. E. Newberry, ’King Ay, the successor of 
Tutankhamun’, JEA 18 (1932), 50-2. 

K. C. Seele, ‘King Ay and the close of the 
Amarna period’, JNES 14 (1955), 168-80. 

O. J. Sci IADEN, ‘Clearance of the tomb of King 
Ay (w x23)\ JARCE 21 (1984), 39-64. 

C. Aldred, Akhenaten: king of Egypt (London, 
1988), 298-301. 






The Egyptians considered that each individ¬ 
ual person was made up of five distinct parts: 
the physical body, the ba, the ka, the NAME 
and the shadow. The ba has similarities with 
our concept of ‘personality’, in that it com¬ 
prised all those non-physical attributes which 
made one human being unique. However, the 
concept of the ba also referred to power, and 
could be extended to gods as well as inanimate 
objects. Ba was therefore also the term used 
for what might be described as the physical 
manifestations of certain gods, so that the 
Memphite apis bull was the ba of osiris; simi¬ 
larly the four sons of horls were his ba. 

Detail from the Book of the Dead oJHunefer ; 
consisting of the vignette associated with Chapter 
17, which shows a ba -bird on a shrine-shaped 
plinth. 19th Dynasty, c.1285 bc, painted papyrus, 
from Thebes. (ea9901) 

It was necessary for the deceased to journey 
from the tomb to rejoin his ka if he was to 
become transformed into an AKH, and since 
the physical body could not do this it was the 
duty of the ba. The Egyptian names of the 
Jabiru stork and the ram both had the same 
phonetic value as ba , therefore the hieroglyph¬ 
ic signs for these creatures were used to refer 
to it in writing. It is possible that this acciden¬ 
tal association with the stork led to the depic¬ 
tion of the ba as a bird with a human head and 
often also with human arms. The Egyptians 
regarded migratory birds as incarnations of 

the ba, flying freely between tomb and under¬ 
world. However, it was also believed that the 
ba could adopt any form it wished, and there 
were numerous funerary spells to assist this 
process of transformation. 

In order for the physical bodies of the 
deceased to survive in the afterlife, they had to 
be reunited with the ba every night, and Spell 
89 of the book. OF THE dead recommended that 
a golden /w-bird should be placed on the chest 
of the mummy in order to facilitate this 
reunion. The ba -bird was also incorporated 
into the decoration of private coffins from the 
21st Dynasty onwards. Far from correspond¬ 
ing to the modern western concept of a ‘spirit’ 
(as it is sometimes translated), the ba was 
closely linked to the physical body, to the 
extent that it too was considered to have phys¬ 
ical needs for such pleasures as food, drink and 
sexual activity. 

E. Wolf-Brinkmann, Versuch einer Deutung des 
Begriffes 'ba' unhand der Uberlicferung der 
Fruhzeit und des Alten Reiches (Freiburg, 1968). 

L. V. Zabkar, A study of the ba concept in ancient 
Egyptian texts (Chicago, 1968). 

H. Goedicke, The report about the dispute of a man 
with his ba (R Berlin 3024) (Baltimore, 1970). 

J. P. Allen, ‘Funerary texts and their meaning 1 . 
Mummies and magic , ed. P. Lacovara, S. D’Auria, 
and C. H. Roehrig (Boston, 1988), 38-49. 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredcck 
(New York, 1992), 179-84. 


Name given to the southern part of 
Mesopotamia from the time of Hammurabi 
(1792-1750 bc) until the Christian era. Its 
capital was the city of Babylon, the site of 
which is located about 80 km south of modern 
Baghdad. The country covered those areas 
described as SUMER and akkad during the 
third millennium bc, and like them its lan¬ 
guage (Babylonian) was written in the 
CUNEIFORM script. 

In the late seventh century bc, the expan¬ 
sion of Babylonian power into Svria-Palestine 
clashed with Egyptian interests there. The 
Saite pharaoh Nekau n (610-595 bc) opposed 
the Babylonian advance, but in the battle of 
Carchcmish, the armies of Nabopolassar, led 
by his son Nebuchadnezzar n, defeated the 
Egyptian army, thus effectively ending Nekau 
u’s hold on Syria. In 601 bc, however, the 
armies of Nebuchadnezzar were driven back 
from the borders of the Delta bv an Egyptian 
army including GREEK mercenaries. In the 
reign of AIIMOSE n (570-526 bc) an alliance was 
established between Egypt and Babylonia but 
by then the Egyptians were threatened by the 
growth of PERSIA. 

R. Koldewey, The excavations at Babylon 
(London, 1914). 

H. Figulla and W. J. Martin, Letters and 
documents of the Old Babylonian period (London 
and Philadelphia, 1953). 

J. Oates, Babylon , 2nd ed. (London, 1986). 

D. B. Redford, Egypt , Canaan and Israel in 
ancient times (Princeton, 1992), 430-69. 

Badari, el- 

Area of Upper Egypt between Matmar and 
Qau, including numerous Predvnastic ceme¬ 
teries (notably Mostagedda, Deir Tasa and the 
cemetery of el-Badari itself), as well as at least 
one early Predvnastic settlement at 
Hammamia. The finds from el-Badari form 
the original basis for the Badarian period 
(c. 5500-4000 bc), the earliest phase of the 
Upper Egyptian predvnastic period. The el- 
Badari region, stretching for 30 km along the 
east bank of the Nile, w as first investigated by 
Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton- 
Thompson between 1922 and 1931. Most of 
the cemeteries in the Badarian region have 
yielded distinctive pottery vessels (particular¬ 
ly red-polished ware with blackened tops), as 
well as terracotta and ivory anthropomorphic 
figures, slate palettes, stone vases and flint 
tools. The contents of the Predvnastic ceme¬ 
teries at el-Badari have been subjected to a 
number of statistical analyses attempting to 
clarify the chronology and social history of the 
Badarian period. 

G. Brunton et al., Qau and Badari , 3 vols 
(London, 1927-30). 

G. Brunton and G. Caton-Tiiompson, The 
Badarian civilisation and prehistoric remains near 
Badari (London, 1928). 

G. Brunton, Mostagedda and the Tasian culture 
(London, 1937). 

—, Matmar (London, 1948). 

VV. Kaiser, ‘Zur Siidausdehnung der 
vorgeschichtlichen Deltakulturen und zur 
friihen Entwicklung Oberagyptcns’, MDAIK 41 
(1985), 61-87. 

D. L. Holmes, ‘Archaeological cultural resources 
and modern land-use activities: some 
observations made during a recent survey in the 
Badari region, Egypt’, JARCE 29 (1992), 67-80. 

Bahariya Oasis 

Fertile depression in the northeastern Libyan 
Desert 200 km w^est of the Nile. The archaeo¬ 
logical remains date primarily from the early 
New Kingdom to the Roman period (z\ 1550 
bc-ad 395). Near the modern town of Bawit 
are the tombs of several 26th-Dvnasty 
Egyptian governors of the oasis, the 19th- 
Dynasty tomb of the provincial governor 
Amenhotep Huy and a necropolis of sacred 




B. Williams, Excavations between Abu Simbel and 
the Sudan frontier i: The A-Group royal cemetery 
at Qustul: cemetery L, Oriental Institute Nubia 
Expedition m (Chicago, 1986). 

—, Excavations between Abu Simbel and the 
Sudan frontier t.x: Noubadian X-Group remains 
from royal cemeteries , Oriental Institute Nubia 
Expedition ix (Chicago, 1991). 

Ballana culture/period see ballana and 


birds associated with the worship of 
I'HOTH and horus, dating to the 26th Dynasty 
and Greco-Roman period. Also near Bawit are 
the remains of a Roman triumphal arch and 
two temples, one dating to the reign of Apries 
(589-570 Be) and the other to the time of 
ALEXANDER T1IE GREAT (332-323 BC). At the 
southern tip of the oasis is el-Hayz, where a 
Roman garrison, a basilica and a small settle¬ 
ment dating to the Roman and Christian peri¬ 
ods (r.30 bc-ad 641) have been excavated. 

A. Fakhrv, Bahria oasis , 2 vols (Cairo, 1942—50). 
—, The oases of Egypt ir (Cairo, 1974). 

IGiddy, Egyptian oases: Bahariya, Dakhla, 
Farafra and Kharga during pharaonic times 
(Warminster, 1987). 


Ballana and Qustul 

Pair of Nubian elite necropoleis on either side 
of the Nile some 15 km south of abu simbel 
and now submerged beneath Lake Nasser. An 
a-group cemetery of elite tumulus graves dat¬ 
ing to the early third millennium bc was exca¬ 
vated at Qustul by an expedition from the 
Chicago Oriental Institute. 

Ballana is the type-site of the Ballana period 
(or ‘X-Group phase’, c. ad 350-700), which 
lasted from the decline of the Meroitic empire 
to the arrival of Christianity. Many of the dis¬ 
tinctive tumulus burials, nearly two hundred 
of which have been excavated, contained evi¬ 
dence of human sacrifice in the form of the 
bodies of retainers buried alongside the pre- 
Christian rulers of Lower Nubia. The drift 
sand and low scrub covering the tumuli at 

Part of a granite 
representation of a sacred 
bark, from the sanctuary 
of Annin at Karnak. 

The various elements 
of the sculpture 
make up a three- 
writing of 
the name of 
Amenhotep ill's 
mother. 18th Dynasty, 
c. 1360 bc, l. 2A3 m. (ea43) 

Pottery from Qasr Ibrim, including examples of the 
tall footed goblets that are the most typical vessel 
forms of the Ballana period. 5th-6th centuries ad, 
it. of tallest vessel 12.2 cm. ( ea66560, 67980, 
71821, 71822) 

Ballana have helped to preserve the graves 
from the widespread plundering that affected 
the earlier elite Kushite cemeteries of mkroe 
and napata. 

W. B. Emery and L. P. Kirwan, The royal tombs of 
Ballana and Qustul (Cairo, 1938). 

B. G. Trigger, ‘The royal tombs at Qustul and 
Ballana and their Meroitic antecedents’, JEA 55 
(1969), 117-28. 

—, ‘The Ballana culture and the coming of 
Christianity’, Africa in Antiquity: the arts of 
ancient Nubia and the Sudan I, ed. S. Wenig (New 
York, 1978), 107-11. 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa , 2nd ed. 
(London and Princeton, 1984), 404—13. 

bark, bark shrine 

Since the principal artery of communication 
in ancient Egypt was the Nile, and the boat 
was the most obvious form of transport, it was 
perhaps inevitable that the ‘bark’ should have 
been the accepted vehicle in which Egyptian 
gods were transported from one shrine to 
another. These divine barks were similar in 
shape to Nile boats, except that their prows 
and sterns were adorned with the aegis of the 
god in question, and the cabin was replaced by 
a naos containing the cult image of the deity. 
Thus the bark of amun, for instance, was dec¬ 
orated with the head of a ram at either end. 

These barks were usually kept in the inner 
sanctuary of the temple, either resting on a 
plinth before the naos , as in the temple of 
Horus at i.dfu, or inside a bark shrine/as'at 
the temples of karnak and LUXOR. There were 
often three such shrines in a row, one for each 
member of a divine triad (group of three 
deities). The barks themselves were scale 
models of genuine boats, and are often depict¬ 
ed in the act of being carried aloft on poles by 
priests, during festivals and processions. As 
well as the principal shrines in the temples, 
there were also small bark shrines along the 
routes of ritual processions, usuallv described 
as ‘resting places’, or ‘way stations’. 


basketry and cordage 


In the case of the festivals of Amun at 
Thebes, particularly the Valley Festival and 
the Opet Festival, these model barks were 
placed on ornate river-going barks to make 
their journey to the Theban west bank and to 
Luxor temple respectively. Similarly the bark 
of HATHOR travelled from her temple at 
dendera to that of Horus at Edfu for the cele¬ 
bration of the ‘feast of the beautiful meeting’, 
a divine union. 

A more specialized funerary form of ritual 
boat, with origins stretching back at least as 
early as the 1st Dynasty at abydos and 
saqqara, is the bark, which may have 
been intended to carry the deceased through 
the netherworld. The best surviving example 
is that of Khufu at giza, which was discovered 
in a pit beside the pyramid and has now been 
reconstructed in situ. 

G. Legrain, ‘Lc logcment et transport des 
barques sacrecs et des statues des dieux dans 
quelques temples egyptiens’, BIFAO 13 (1917), 

G. Foucart, ‘Un temple flottant: le vaisseau d’or 
d’Amon-Ra’, Fondation Eugene Pint: Monuments 
et memoires publics par l'Academic des 
Inscriptions et Belles Lettres 25 (1921—2), 143—69. 
K. A. Kitchen, ‘Barke’, Lexikon der Agyptologie 
l, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1975), 619-25. 

basketry and cordage 

A class of artefacts that have frequently been 
overlooked by archaeologists in the past, part¬ 
ly because, even in the arid conditions of most 
Egyptian sites, they are not preserved in the 
same quantities as pottery and stone vessels. 
Although such organic materials as basketry, 
matting (both for floor coverings and roofing) 
and rope clearly played a significant role in the 
daily lives of the ancient Egyptians, only a 
small percentage has survived in the archaeo¬ 
logical record, perhaps because discarded bas¬ 
kets would often have been burned, whereas 
stone and ceramics are difficult to destroy 

The Egyptians’ uses of baskets ranged from 
small disposable bags to large decorated stor¬ 
age baskets for clothes, the ancient Egyptian 
equivalent of the wardrobe or linen closet. 
The wide variety of uses is partly due to the 
scarcity of wood in Egypt, whereas the materi¬ 
als used to make baskets and rope were readily 
available in the Nile valley. Rope was made 
from tall strong grasses (e.g. Desmostachya bi- 

Two coiled baskets and a rectangular papyrus-Jibre 
ba *ket. (ea6346, 5918 , 5395) 

pinnata and Imperata cylindrica) or from the 
rind of the papyrus stem {Cyperus papyrus). 
Baskets were made from the leaves of the dom 
palm (Hyphaena thebaica ), and, increasingly 
from the Late Period onwards, the date palm 
(Phoenix dactyliferu). In modern Egypt, virtu¬ 
ally all baskets are made from date-palm 
leaves, while rope and mats are made from the 
coarse fibres at the bases of the leaves. From 
the Ptolemaic period onwards, rushes (Junius 
species) were used for making baskets and mats. 

The basket-making techniques employed 
from the Mesolithic period onwards were coil¬ 
ing, twining and, to a lesser extent, weaving. In 
the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, a number of 
other methods and styles emerged, including 
plaiting and stake-and-strand basketry. Many of 
these techniques are still used in modern times, 
therefore the evidence provided by surviving 
ancient basketry can often be supplemented 

and better understood through the ethno- 
archaeological study of modern basket-makers. 
W. Z. Wendrich, Who is afraid of basketry? A 
guide to recording basketry and cordage for 
archaeologists and anthropologists (Leiden, 1991). 

Basta, Tell (anc. Pcr-Bastet, Bubastis) 

Site of a temple and town in the eastern Nile 
Delta, about (SO km to the northeast of Cairo. 
It flourished from the 4th Dynasty to the end 
of the Roman period (r.2613 bc:-ad 395), but 
the main monument at the site is the red gran¬ 
ite temple of the cat-goddess bastet, which 
was documented by the Greek historian 
Herodotus in the fifth century bc. The results 
of Edouard Naville’s excavations in 1887-9 
provided archaeological evidence confirming 
many of the details of this description. The 

Plan of the site of Tell Basta. 




Part of a granite temple gateway from Bubastis, 
showing Osorkon it and Karoma, c.874-850 nc, 
ft. 1.75 m. (ea1077) 

site also includes the ^/-temples of the 6th- 
Dynasty pharaohs Teti (2345-2323 bc:) and 
Pepy i (2321-2287 bc) and a pair of ‘jubilee 
chapels 1 built by Amenemhat ill (1855-1808 
bc) and Amenhotep in (1390-1352 bc) respec¬ 
tively, as well as temples dedicated to the gods 
atum and Mihos. To the north of the city are a 
series of vaulted mud-brick cat cemeteries and 
adjacent ateliers. A 19th-Dynastv hoard of 
gold and silver vessels and jewellery was dis¬ 
covered at the site in 1906 (now in the 
Egyptian Museum, Cairo). 

The city reached its peak when its rulers 
established the 22nd Dynasty (f. 945—715 bc). 
Although the capital during this period was 
probably still tan is (and to some extent Mem¬ 
phis), Bubastis must have taken on greater sig¬ 
nificance as the home city of the new kings of 
Egypt. OSORKON i (924-889 bc), for instance, 
appears to have built a hypostvle hall in the 
temple of Bastet, as well as decorating existing 
walls with a number of new reliefs and con¬ 
structing a small temple to Atum outside the 
main precincts. Osorkon n (874-850 bc:) added 
a new court to the main temple in celebration 

E. Naville, Bubastis ( 1887-1889) (London, 


L. Habachi, Tell Basla (Cairo, 1957). 

C. C. Van Siclen hi, ‘The city of Basta: an 
interim report 1 , NARCE 128 (1984), 28-39. 


Cat-goddess and local deity of the town of 
Bubastis (tell basia), whose name means 
‘she of the bast [ointment jar]’. She was 
regarded not only as the daughter of the sun- 
god but also as the more protective aspect of 
the mother-goddess, in contrast to the aggres¬ 
sive image of the lioness-headed sekhmet. In 
her earliest knowm form, carved on stone ves¬ 
sels of the 2nd-Dynasty ruler Hetepsekhemwy 
(r.2890 bc) at Saqqara, Bastet w r as represented 
as a woman with the head of a lioness, fre¬ 
quently holding both the ankh sign and a scep¬ 
tre (as well as, occasionally, a menat necklace). 
By the first millennium bc, however, she w r as 
widely portrayed as a cat-headed woman, 
often carrying a sistrum (a form of rattle) and 
sometimes accompanied by a small group of 

Bronze statuette of the cat-goddess Bastet holding 
an aegis in her left hand and a sistrum in her right; 
at her feet there are Jour small kittens. Late Period 
or Ptolemaic period, c. 664-30 bc, h. 26 cm. 


kittens. Her name was commonly inscribed on 
blue glazed ceremonial ‘New Year’ flasks, per¬ 
haps because, like other lioness-goddesses, she 
would have been linked with the five epagom- 
enal days in the Egyptian calendar. The 

festival of Bastet is described by Herodotus. 
N. E. Scott, ‘The cat of Bastet 1 , BMMA 17/1 
(1958), 1-7. 

Z. El-Kordy, La deesse Bastet (Cairo, 1968). 

J. Malek, The cat in ancient Egypt (London, 


Goddess of the seventh Upper Egyptian 
nome, usually represented by a cow’s head 
with curling horns, perhaps the earliest depic¬ 
tion being the pair of heads at the top of the 
narmer palette (r.3100 bc). The iconography 
of Bat was almost completely absorbed into 
the cult of the more important cow-goddess 
iiathor by the Middle Kingdom. 

H. G. Fischer, ‘The cult and nome of the 
goddess Bat \JARCE 1 (1962), 7-24. 

—, ‘Varia Aegyptiaca: n. B3.t in the New 
Kingdom 1 , JARCE 2 (1963), 50-1. 


Architectural term denoting the sloping face 
of a wall in which the foundation courses are 
wider than the upper courses, thus adding sta¬ 
bility. This functional and decorative tech¬ 
nique was regularly employed for the walls of 
mastaba tombs as well as the enclosure walls 
of Egyptian temples, where it was associated 
w ith pan BEDDING and sectional construction. 



Facial hair in Egypt has an uneven history. It is 
clear from certain Predvnastic figurines, as 
well as from the figures depicted on the 
narmer palette, that full beards were favoured 
in the formative stages of Egyptian history. B\ 
the beginning of the Dynastic period, how ¬ 
ever, shaving had become fashionable among 
the nobility, later spreading throughout the 
rest of the population. The earliest shaving 
implements appear to have been sharp stone 
blades, but in later periods copper or bronze 
razors w ere used. The work of the village bar¬ 
ber is known from Egyptian literature as well 
as from tomb scenes such as that of Userher 
(tt 56) at Thebes, and it seems to have been a 
mark of poor social status not to shave, except 
when in mourning or about to depart on an 
expedition abroad. 

None the less, officials and rulers of the 
Old Kingdom, such as Prince Rahotep, arc 
depicted with moustaches, and full beards 
are widely shown on mummy masks of the 
First Intermediate Period and the Middle 
Kingdom, such as that of a 12th-Dynastv indi¬ 
vidual named Ankhef. Despite the low f status 
apparently attached to facial hair in life, it 




was considered to be a divine attribute of the 
gods, whose closely plaited beards were ‘like 
lapis lazuli’. Accordingly, the pharaoh would 
express his status as a living god by wearing a 
‘false beard’ secured by cord. Such beards 
were usually wider toward the bottom (i.e. the 
end furthest away from the chin), as in the 
case of the triad statues of menkaura. It was 
usually after their death that kings were por¬ 
trayed wearing the divine Osirid form of 
beard with upturned end, as on the gold 
mask of Tutankhamun. Deceased non-roval 
individuals are often shown with short, tuft¬ 
like beards. 

S. Quirke and A. J. Spencer, The British Museum 
book of ancient Egypt (London, 1992), 71-2. 

E. Strouhal, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 83-4. 


Nomadic pastoralists of northern and central 
Arabia and Egypt’s Eastern Desert, where 
their descendants still live today. The ancient 
bedouin of the Arabian peninsula are thought 
to have been responsible for domesticating the 
single-humped Arabian CAMEL at the end of 
the second millennium bc, but the earliest evi¬ 
dence for the domesticated camel in the Nile 
valley dates to the ninth century BC. 

Organized states have always felt threatened 
by nomadic peoples, and the Egyptians were 
no exception. They knew the bedouin as 
Shasu, or heryw-sh (‘sand dwellers’), and bat¬ 
tles against them are recorded as early as the 
time of Unas (2375-2345 bc), who depicted 
them on the causeway of his funerary complex 
at saqqara. In the First Intermediate Period 
they invaded parts of the Delta, and although 
they were eventually expelled they continued 
to be a source of difficulty. During the reign of 
the 12th-Dynastv pharaoh Amenemhat i 

Painted cast of a painted relief in the temple of 
Rameses n (c. 1250 bc) at Beit el-Wali , showing 
the king trampling bedouin. 

(1985-1955 bc) they threatened the turquoise 
mines at Serabit el-Khadim in the SINAI; 
although defeated, they remained a sufficient 
threat for defences to be built around the site 
in the time of amenemiiat m (1855-1808 bc). 

The military might of the New Kingdom 
did not deter the bedouin, and Thutmose II 
(1492-1479 bc) was obliged to campaign 
against them well beyond. Egypt’s borders. As 
before, however, this was not a long-term solu¬ 
tion to the problem, and his successors, the 
warrior pharaohs Thutmose in and 
Amenhotep n, are also known to have dis¬ 
patched military expeditions against them. 
The bedouin’s w r ay of life made them almost 
impossible to eradicate, since they were always 
on the move and ready to flee into the desert 
where a conventional army was not able to fol¬ 
low. Occasionally, as under Setv i (1294-1279 
bc), they had to be driven from the wells along 
the Egyptian desert route across Sinai. 

Their knowledge of the desert and their 
ability to move easily across difficult terrain 
made them valuable military scouts, although 
their skills were not generally plied on behalf 
of the Egyptians. When RAMESES n (1279-1213 
bc) captured two bedouin before his battle 
with the hittites at qadesh they are said to 
have misled him into believing that his enemy 
was still distant, with near-fatal consequences. 
Similarly, it was the bedouin who guided 
Cambyses and his Persian army across the 
wastes of Sinai in their successful invasion of 
Egypt in 525 bc. 

R. Giveon, Les bedouins Shosou des documents 
egypliens (Leiden, 1971). 


According to one Egyptian myth, bees were 
the tears of the sun-god ra. They w r ere 
undoubtedly of great importance in providing 
honey, w'hich was used both as the principal 
sweetener in the Egyptian diet and as a base 
for medicinal unguents thus employing its 
natural anti-bacterial properties (see 

medicine). The Egyptians also collected 
beeswax for use in metallurgy (i.e. in the 
moulding of w ax images for metal casting by 
the lost-wax method) as well as in the ‘var¬ 
nishing’ of pigments. 

Bee-keepers are represented on a relief of 
Nvuserra (2445-2421 bc) from his sun temple 
at abu gurab, as early as the 5th Dynasty. This 
record indicates that apiculture, already attest¬ 
ed as early as the Neolithic period, was well 
organized by the middle of the Old Kingdom, 
and that honey was probably being distributed 
over large distances. As well as trading honey 
it is likely that many communities through¬ 
out Egypt kept their own bee colonies. Bee¬ 
keeping is also shown in the 18th-Dynasty 
tomb of Rekhmira (ttIOO). The 26th- 
Dynasty tomb of Pabasa (tt279) at Thebes 
clearly shows bees kept in pottery hives, 
although hives made of mud and other material 
were probably also used. Hone} from wild bees 
was gathered by professional collectors, known 
as bitym, working along the desert fringes. 

The religious significance of the bee also 
extended to an association with the goddess 
NEITH, whose temple at Sais was know n as per- 
bit (‘the house of the bee’). One of the king’s 
names, from the 1st Dynasty onwards, was 
nesip-bit : ‘He of the sedge and the bee’, which 
is conventionally translated as ‘king of Upper 
and Lower Egypt’ (see KINGSHIP and royal 

G. Kueny, ‘Scenes apicoles dans l’ancicnne 
Egypte’,J7V£S 9 (1950), 84-93. 

J. Leclant, ‘L’abeille et le miel dans l’Egypte 
pharaonique’, Traitede biologic de Tabeillc (sous 
la direction de Retny Chauvin) v (Paris, 1968), 

E. Crane, The archaeology of beekeeping 
(London, 1984), 34-43. 

R. David, The pyramid builders of ancient Egypt 
(London, 1986), 155-57. 

beer see alcoholic beverages and food 

Begrawiya see meroe 

Behbeit el-Hagar (anc. Per-hebvt, Iseum) 
Temple town situated in the northern central 
area of the Nile Delta, which flourished in the 
30th Dynasty (380-343 bc) and the Ptolemaic 
period (332-30 bc). The site is dominated by 
the remains of a large granite temple of ISIS, 
the importance of which is indicated by the 
fact that one of its relief blocks was later 
incorporated into the temple of Isis in Rome. 
The plan of the original temple at Behbeit el- 
Hagar has proved difficult to reconstruct 
owing to damage caused by quarrying and 
seismic activity. 




A. Lr.zi.Ni:, ‘F.tat present du temple de Behbeit 
el-Hagar\ Kemi 10 (1949), 49-57. 

B. Portkr and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography ix (Oxford, 1968), 40—2. 

C. Favard-Meeks, Le temple de Behbeit el- 
Hagara (Hamburg, 1991). 

Beit el-Wali 

Rock-cut temple on the west bank of the Nile 
in Lower Nubia, which was dedicated to 
Amun-Ra and founded in the reign of rameses 
ii (1279—1213 bc). The reliefs were copied by 
the German Egyptologist Gunther Roeder in 
1907, although casts were made by Robert 
Hay in the 1820s. The site was not compre¬ 
hensively studied until the work of a joint 
expedition of the University of Chicago and 
the Swiss Institute in Cairo during the 1960s. 
Soon afterwards, the temples at Beit el-Wali 
and nearby kai.ab.siia were moved to New 
Kalabsha, 45 km to the north, in order to save 
them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser 
(see Aswan high dam). The reliefs include 
depictions of the siege of a Syrian city, the 
capture of a Nubian village and the bringing of 
Nubian tribute into the presence of the king, 
painted plaster casts of which are displayed in 
the collection of the British Museum (see 
illustrations accompanying the entries on 

G. Roeder, Der Felstempel von Beit el-Wali 
(Cairo, 1938). 

H. Ricke, G. R. Hughes and E. F. Wente, The 
Beit el-Wali temple ojHarnesses it (Chicago, 1967). 

Belzoni, Giovanni (1778-1823) 

Italian adventurer, explorer and excavator, who 
procured large quantities of Egyptian antiqui¬ 
ties for European collectors and museums. 
The son of a barber, Belzoni was bom in 
Padua and at first pursued a career as a circus 
strong man, travelling throughout Europe. In 
1814 he went to Egypt, where his attempts to 
sell a new type of water wheel proved unsuc¬ 
cessful, leading him to pursue a more lucrative 
trade in the excavation and transportation of 
ancient monuments. In 1816 he began to work 
for Henry Salt, the British Consul-General in 
Egypt, initially helping him with the trans¬ 
portation of the ‘young Memnon’, part of a 
colossal statue of Rameses ii, which was to 
become one of the first major Egyptian antiq¬ 
uities in the collection of the British Museum. 

I lis discoveries w ere numerous, ranging 
from the tomb of King skty i at western 
Thebes to the Greco-Roman city of Berenice 
on the Red Sea coast. Although his methods 
were somewhat unorthodox (and occasionally 
unnecessarily destructive), judged bv modern 

archaeological standards, he was nevertheless 
an important pioneer in Egyptology. He did 
much to encourage European enthusiasm for 
Egyptian antiquities, not only through his 
exhibition at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly 
(London) in 1821 but also through the pub¬ 
lished accounts of his discoveries. In the Great 
Temple at Abu simbei., for instance, he and 
James Mangles (a British naval officer) com¬ 
piled a plan on w hich they marked the original 
positions of the items of statuary. 

After more than eight years of exploration 
along the Nile valley, he embarked on an expe¬ 
dition to find the source of the Niger, but died 
of dysentery at Benin in December 1823. 

G. Belzoni, Narrative of the operations and recent 
discoveries within the pyramids , temples , tombs and 
excavations in Egypt and Nubia (London, 1820). 

C. Clair, Strong man Egyptologist (London, 


S. Mayes, The great Belzoni (London, 1959). 

benben stone 

Sacred stone at Heliopolis that symbolized 
the primeval mound and perhaps also the pet¬ 
rified semen of the sun-god Ra-Atum (see 
ATUM). It served as the earliest prototype for 
the OBELISK and possibly even the pyramid. In 
recognition of these connections, the gilded 
cap-stone placed at the very top of each pyra¬ 
mid or obelisk was known as a benbenet. 'The 
original stone at Heliopolis was believed to 
have been the point at which the rays of the 
rising sun first fell, and its cult appears to date 
back at least as far as the 1st Dynasty. There 
are strong links between the benben and the 

BENU-bird (the Egyptian phoenix), and both 
terms seem to derive from the word weben 
meaning ‘to rise’. 

J. R. Baines, ‘Bnbn: mythological and linguistic 
notes’. Orient alia 39 (1970), 389-404. 

L. Habachi, The obelisks of Egypt (Cairo, 1984), 


Beni Hasan 

Necropolis located on the east bank of the Nile 
some 23 km north of el-Minya, dating princi¬ 
pally to the 11th and 12th Dynasties 
(2125—1795 bc) although there are some small 
tombs dating back to the 6th Dynasty 
(2345—2181 bc.). There are thirty-nine rock- 
cut tombs at Beni Hasan, several of them 
belonging to the provincial governors of the 
‘oryx’ nome (province). A number of the 11 th- 
and 12th-Dynasty tombs are decorated with 
wall-paintings of funerary rituals and daily 
life, including depictions of Asiatic traders, 
battle scenes and rows of wrestlers. There is 
also an extensive cemetery of Middle 
Kingdom shaft tombs excavated by John 
Garstang in the early 1900s. The equipment 
from these undecorated tombs, including 
painted coffins and models, forms an impor¬ 
tant corpus with regard to the funerary beliefs 
of the Middle Kingdom. At the southern end 
of the site is a New r Kingdom rock-cut temple, 

Copy of a scene from the tomb of Khnumhotep at 
Beni Hasan , showing men pithing Jigs while 
baboons sit in the tree eating the fruit. Early 12th 
Dynasty , c. 1950 bc. 


b enu-bird 


p E. Newberry et al., BeniMtissan, 4 vols 
(London, 1893-1900). 

S. Bickel and J.-L. Ciiappaz, ‘Missions 
epigraphiques du fonds de l’Egyptologie de 
Geneve au Speos Artemidos’, BSEG 12 (1988), 

J. D. BOURRIAU, Pharaohs and mortals 
(Cambridge, 1988), 85-109. 


The sacred Heliopolitan bird, closely associat¬ 
ed with the benben STONE, the obelisk, and the 
cult of the sun-gods atlm and RA. Its name 
probably derived from the Egyptian verb weben 
(‘to rise’) and it was the prototype for the 
Greek phoenix. There may well be an etymo¬ 
logical connection between the two birds’ 
names, and certainly there are distinct similar¬ 
ities in their respective links with the sun and 
rebirth, although a number of the other aspects 
of the phoenix legend are quite distinct. 

the desire for transformation might refer to 
the changing phases of Venus. 

R. Van Den Broke, The myth of the phoenix 
according to classical and early Christian tradition 
(Leiden, 1972). 

L. KAkosy, ‘Phonix’, Lexikon der Agyptologie iv, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1982), 1030-9. 

G. Hart, Egyptian myths (London, 1990), 16-17. 
R. Krauss, ‘M-mjtt bnw (pAnastasi 1 4.5)’, JEA 
79(1993), 266-7. 


Dwarf god with grotesque mask-like facial 
features and a protruding tongue. He is often 
shown with the ears and mane of a lion, 
although some scholars have suggested that he 
is simply wearing a lion-skin cape rather than 
possessing these physical characteristics. He is 
commonly portrayed with a plumed headdress 
and carrying musical instruments, knives or 

Painted wooden figure of Bes on a lotus flower. 
New Kingdom, h. 28 cm. (f.a20865) 

below Painted relief figures of Bes and a naked 
woman or goddess in the 'Bes Chambers' at 
Saqqara. (reproduced courtesy of the 


Detail of the Book of the Dead of the scribe 
Nakht; in the bottom register Nukht is shown 
adoring the benu -bird. Early 19th Dynasty, 
c.1280 uc. (e i 10171) 

The ben //-bird appears in the pyramid 
texts as a yellow wagtail serving as a manifes¬ 
tation of the Heliopolitan sun-god Atum; in 
Utterance 600, Atum is said to have ‘risen up, 
as the benben in the mansion of the benu in 
Heliopolis’. Later, however, in the book of the 
dead, the benu -bird was represented as a kind 
of grey heron (Arden cittern ) with a long- 
straight beak and a two-feathered crest, the BA 
(physical manifestation) of both Ra and OSIRIS. 
Because of its connections with Osiris, it is 
sometimes represented wearing the atef crown 
(see crowns). 

Chapter 83 of the Book of the Dead, the 
spell for being transformed into a benu-b\v<\\ 
was usually accompanied by a depiction of the 
benu- bird. In an analysis of the desire to be 
transformed ‘like the benu- bird’ in Papyrus 
Anastasi i, Rolf Krauss suggests that the bird 
symbolized the planet Venus from at least the 
^ginning oi the New Kingdom, in which case 




the SA hieroglyph representing protection. 
The name Bes is used to describe a number of 
similar deities and demons, including the lion- 
demons known from the Middle Kingdom 
town of Kahun (see el-lahun and masks) and 
the shaft tombs behind the ramesseum, which 
are of a similar date. Bes was considered to be 
capable of warding off snakes from the house, 
and was sometimes portrayed in the form of 
the demon Aha strangling two serpents with 
his bare hands. 

Despite his apparent ferocity, he was a 
beneficent deity, much favoured as a protector 
of the family, and associated with sexuality 
and childbirth. His image is therefore found 
on all of the mammisi (birth-houses) associated 
with Late Period temples, as well as being 
carved on such everyday objects as cosmetic 
items. Along with taweret he was one of the 
most popular deities represented in amulets. 
His image was painted on a frieze in a room of 
Amenhotep ill’s palace at mai.kata, as well as 
on some of the walls of the workmen’s villages 
at el-amarna and deir el-medina, perhaps 
indicating rooms connected with women and 

The sexual aspect of the god seems to have 
become particularly prominent during the 
Ptolemaic period, when ‘incubation’ or Bes 
chambers were built at saqqara. Mud-plaster 
figures of Bes and a naked goddess lined their 
walls, and it has been suggested that pilgrims 
probably spent the night there in the hope of 
experiencing healing dreams, perhaps in con¬ 
nection with the renewal of their sexual pow¬ 
ers. In the Roman period he was perhaps 
adopted as a military god since he was often 
portrayed in the costume of a legionary bran¬ 
dishing a sword. 

J. F. Romano, ‘The origin of the Bes image’, 

BES 2 (1980), 39-56. 

J. D. Bourrlau, Pharaohs and mortals 
(Cambridge, 1988), 110-13. 

B Group (B Horizon) 

Now-discredited cultural term invented by 
George Reisner to describe the final stages of 
the Neolithic A group in nubia (r.2800-2300 
bc), leading up to the beginning of the c- 
group phase. Two principal reasons have 
emerged for rejecting the existence of the B 
Group, at least as Reisner envisaged it. First, 
there appears to have been great continuity in 
material culture, settlement patterns and 
cemetery locations between the A and C 
Groups and, second, the chronological gap 
between the two might actually have been no 
more than three centuries roughly contempo¬ 
rary with the Egyptian 3rd and 4th Dynasties 
(c. 2686-2494 bc). It is therefore possible that 

the assemblages usually designated ‘B Group’ 
might actually have resulted from the relative 
impoverishment of Lower Nubia or the depre¬ 
dations of early Egyptian imperialism. It has 
been suggested that there might have been an 
enforced reversion to pastoralism or the local 
Nubian population might even have temporar¬ 
ily abandoned the region, eventually returning 
in the form of the C Group. 

G. Reisner, Archaeological survey of Nubia: 
report for 1907-8 i (Cairo, 1910), 18-52. 

H. S. Smith, ‘The Nubian B-group’, Kush 14 
(1966), 69-124. 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa, 2nd ed. 
(London and Princeton, 1984), 132-5. 

H. S. Smith, ‘The development of the A-Group 
“culture” in northern Lower Nubia’, Egypt and 
Africa , ed. W.V. Davies (London, 1991), 92-111. 

Biblical connections 

The links between ancient Egypt and the 
events described in the Old Testament are 
generally problematic and beset by controver¬ 
sy. There are a number of critical problems 
with the attempt to correlate Biblical narra¬ 
tives with the Pharaonic textual and archaeo¬ 
logical record. Given that most of the events 
described in the Bible had taken place many 
centuries prior to the time that they were writ¬ 
ten down, it is extremely difficult to know 
when they are factual historical accounts and 
when they are purely allegorical or rhetorical 
in nature. 

Because of the vagueness of the Biblical 
chronological framework, it is usually also dif¬ 
ficult to assign events to particular historical 
periods with any precision. Another major 
problem is posed by the possibility that those 
events that were of great significance to the 
people of Israel cannot be assumed to have had 
the same importance for the ancient 
Egyptians, therefore there is no guarantee of 
any independent Egyptian record having been 
made (let alone having survived among the 
small fraction of preserved texts). A great deal 
of research has therefore tended to concen¬ 
trate on attempting to date the Biblical stories 
by means of chance historical clues incorpo¬ 
rated in the narratives, although even then 
there is the danger of encountering anachro¬ 
nisms introduced at the time that the texts 
were written down. 

Most interest has focused on the stories of 
Joseph and Moses, both of which contain 
many literary and historical details that sug¬ 
gest at least a know ledge of ancient Egypt on 
the part of the writers. The episode in the 
story of Joseph involving his attempted seduc¬ 
tion by Potiphar’s wife is closely paralleled in 
an Egyptian story known as the Tale of the Trvo 

Brothers , while several of the personal names 
of characters appear to be authentically 
Egyptian Late Period forms, such as Asenet 
(‘belonging to the goddess Neith’). However, 
these literary and linguistic connections with 
Egypt are of little help in terms of dating the 
story, which is usually assumed to have taken 
place during the Egyptian New Kingdom 
(1550-1069 bc, equivalent to the Late Bronze 
Age in the Levant), although certain details tie 
in much more with the political situation of 
the Saitc period (664—525 bc). 

The emergence of Moses and the events of 
the Exodus are thought to have taken place 
in the early Ramesside period, w r ith ramesi s 
ii (1279-1213 bc) being considered the most 
likely to have been the pharaoh featuring in 
the narrative. No texts from his reign make 
any mention of Moses or the children of 
Israel, although the name Israel first occurs 
on the so-called Israel Stele of the time of his 
successor, merenptah. Attempts have occa¬ 
sionally been made to equate Moses with the 
pharaoh akiienaten, on the grounds that the 
latter introduced a peculiarly Egyptian form 
of monotheism, but there are no other 
aspects of this pharaoh’s life, or indeed his 
cult of the Aten, that remotely resemble the 
Biblical account of Moses. Akhenaten\ 
Hymn to the Aten has been shown to have 
strong similarities with Psalm 104, but this is 
probably only an indication that the two 
compositions belong to a common literal) 
heritage or perhaps even derive from a com¬ 
mon Near Eastern original. The same reason 
is usually given for the very close parallels 
that have been observed between a Late 
Period wisdom text known as the Instruction 
of Amenemipet son of Kanakht and the 
Biblical book of Proverbs, although it has 
been suggested by some scholars that the 
writers of Proverbs may even have been 
influenced by a text of the Instruction of 
Amenemipet itself. 

From the Third Intermediate Period 
(1069-747 bc) onwards, there are more verifi¬ 
able references to Egypt in the Bible, particu¬ 
larly in terms of the political events involving 
conflict with the Assyrians and Persians. The 
22nd-Dvnastv ruler Sheshonq i (945-924 bc), 
the Biblical Shishak, sacked Jerusalem and the 
temple of Solomon in 925 BC. I Iosea, the ruler 
of Samaria, is said to have requested military 
aid from the Egyptian Prince Tefnakht of sais, 
in his attempt to fend off the Assyrians in the 
late eighth century bc. 

P. Montet, Egypt and the Bible (Philadelphia, 

D. B. Redford, A study of the Biblical story of 
Joseph (Genesis 37-50) (Leiden, 1970). 


bi rth-house 


S. Groll (ed.), Pharaonic Egypt, the Bible 
and Christianity (Jerusalem, 1985). 

A. F. Rainey (ed.), Egypt, Israel, Sinai - 
archaeological and historical relationships in the 
Biblical period (Tel Aviv, 1987). 

D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in 
ancient times (Princeton, 1992). 

birth-house see mammisi 


Nomads active in Lower nubia during the X- 
Group phase ( 350-700). The Blemmyes 
are usually identified as the ancestors of the 
modern Beja people. Both the Blemmyes and 
the Nobatae (another group of nomads in 
Lower Nubia) are mentioned in Classical 
texts, but there is no definite archaeological 
evidence to connect either of these peoples 
with the royal cemetery at ballana dating to 
the same period. The situation is summarized 
by W. Y. Adams: ‘We may ... epitomize the 
riddle of post-Meroitic Nubia by observing 
that historians tell us of two peoples, the 
Blemmyes and the Nobatae, where archaeolo¬ 
gy discloses only one culture, the Ballana; 
moreover, both history and archaeology leave 
us in ignorance of the fate of the earlier 
Meroitic population and culture.’ 

A. Paul, A history of the Beja tribes of the Sudan , 
2nd ed. (London, 1971). 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa, 2nd ed. 
(London and Princeton, 1984), 382-429. 

block statue 

Type of sculpture introduced in the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc), representing private 
individuals in a very compressed squatting 
position, with the knees drawn up to the chin. 
In some examples the effect is almost to reduce 
the human body to a schematic block-like 
shape, while in others some of the modelling of 
the limbs is still retained. New Kingdom texts 
suggest that the origin of the style was the 
desire to represent an individual in the form of 
a guardian seated in the gateway of a temple. 
One of the practical advantages of the block 
statue, which became particularly popular dur¬ 
ing the Late Period (747-332 bc:), was the fact 
that it provided a very large surface area for 
inscriptions relating to the funerary cult and 
the identification of the individual concerned. 
C. Aldred, Egyptian art (London, 1980), 133-5. 
W. Stevenson Smiti i, The art and architecture of 
ancient Egypt, rev. W. K. Simpson 
(Harmondsworth, 1981), 181-2. 

R. Schulz, Die Entwicklung und Bedeutung des 
kuboiden Statuentypus (Hildeshiem, 1992). 

blue crown see crowns and royal regalia 

board-games see games 

boats see SHIPS AND BOATS 

Book of the Dead 

Egyptological term used to refer to the funer¬ 
ary text known to the Egyptians as the ‘spell 
for coming forth by day’. It was introduced at 
the end of the Second Intermediate Period 
and consisted of about two hundred spells (or 
‘chapters’), over half of which were derived 
directly from the earlier pyramid texts or 

Such ‘netherworld’ texts as the Book of the 
Dead were usually inscribed on papyri, 
although certain small extracts were inscribed 
on amulets. Chapter 30 a, for example, was 
known as the ‘spell for not letting the 
deceased’s heart create opposition against him 
in the realm of the dead’ and was commonly 
inscribed on heart scarabs, while a version of 
Chapter 6 was inscribed on siiabti figures so 
that they might perform corvee work on behalf 
of the deceased. 

Chapter 125, the section of the Book of the 
Dead that was most commonly illustrated by a 
vignette, shows the last judgement of the 
deceased before osiris and the forty-two 
‘judges’ representing aspects of maat (‘divine 
order’). The judgement took the form of the 
weighing of the heart of the deceased against 
the feather of Maat. An important element of 
the ritual was the calling of each judge by 
name, while giving the relevant ‘negative con¬ 
fession’, such as: ‘O Far Strider who came 
forth from Heliopolis, I have done no false¬ 
hood; O Fire-embracer who came forth from 
Kherarha, I have not robbed; O Nosey who 
came forth from Hermopolis, I have not been 
rapacious.’ The desired outcome of these neg¬ 
ative confessions was that the deceased was 
declared ‘true of voice’ and introduced into 
the realm of the deceased. Although vignettes 
always optimistically depict a successful out¬ 
come, the demon ammut (‘the devourer of the 
dead’) was usually shown awaiting those who 
might fail the test. 

The Book of the Dead was often simply 
placed in the coffin, but it could also be rolled 
up and inserted into a statuette of Sokar-Osiris 
or even incorporated into the mummy ban¬ 
daging. The texts could be written in the 
Since most wealthy individuals were provided 
with Books of the Dead, numerous copies have 

R. O. Faulkner, The ancient Egyptian Book of the 
Dead, ed. C. Andrews (London, 1985). 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredcck 
(New York, 1992), 95-113. 

borders, frontiers and limits 

The Egyptians used two principal terms to 
describe a border or limit: lash, which refers to 
a real geographical limit set by people or 
deities, and djer , which appears to describe a 
fixed and unchanging universal limit. The 
tash, whether field boundary or national bor¬ 
der, was therefore essentially an clastic fron¬ 
tier, and, in times of strength and prosperity, 
such rulers as Senusret i (1965-1920 bc) and 
Thutmose hi (1479-1425 bc) could state an 
intention to ‘extend the borders’ (sewesekh 
tashw) of Egypt. 

The traditional borders of Egypt com¬ 
prised the Western Desert, the Sinai Desert, 
the Mediterranean coast and the Nile 
cataracts south of Aswan. These geographi¬ 
cal barriers were sufficient to protect the 

Part of a hieratic papyrus inscribed with military 
dispatches sent from the Egyptian garrison at 
Setnna, on the border with Upper Nubia. Middle 
Kingdom, c.1841 BC,from Thebes, h. 16 cm. 

(eaI0752 sheet 3) 

Egyptians from outside interference for many 
centuries. Later on, in the Pharaonic period, 
these natural borders helped to maintain 
Egypt’s independence during periods of rela¬ 
tive weakness. Since, however, the pharaoh’s 
titulary described him as the ruler of the 
entire known world, the political boundaries 
of Egypt were theoretically infinite. In prac¬ 
tice the greatest extent of the Egyptian 
empire - achieved during the reign of 
Thutmos hi in the 18th Dynasty - was 
marked by the Euphrates in the northeast and 
the kurgus boundary stele (between the 
fourth and fifth Nile cataracts) in the south. 

The border with Lower Nubia was tradi¬ 
tionally marked by the town of Elephantine 
(aswan), naturally defended by its island loca¬ 
tion and surrounded by a thick defensive wall. 
The original name of the settlement around 
the first cataract was Swenet (‘trade’), from 
which the modern name Aswan derives; this 
place name reflects the more commercial 




nature of the southern border, representing 
opportunities for profitable economic activities 
rather than the threat of invasion. Because the 
first cataract represented an obstacle to ship¬ 
ping - despite an attempt by the Old Kingdom 
ruler Merenra (2287-2278 bc) to cut a canal - 
all trade goods had to be transported along the 
bank. This crucial land route to the east of the 
Nile, between Aswan and the region of Philae, 
was protected by a huge mud-brick wall, 
almost 7.5 km long, probably built principally 
in the 12th Dynasty. 

The northeastern, northwestern and south¬ 
ern borders of Egypt were more or less forti¬ 
fied from the Middle Kingdom onwards. 
From at least the reign of Amencmhat i 
(1985-1955 bc) the eastern Delta was protect¬ 
ed by a string of fortresses, known as the Walls 
of the Prince (inebw heka). These were intend¬ 
ed to prevent invasion along the coastal route 
from the Levant, which was known as the Way 
of Horus during the Middle Kingdom. At 
about the same time a fortress seems to have 
been established in the Wadi Natrun, defend¬ 
ing the western Delta from the Libyans. The 
western and eastern Delta defences were well 
maintained throughout the second millen¬ 
nium BC. The New Kingdom fortresses and 
garrisons of the Delta borders - including el- 
Alamein and Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham in 

the west and Tell Abu Safa (Sile), Tell el- 
Farama (Pelusium), Tell el-I Ieir (Migdol) and 
Tell el-Maskhuta (Pithom) in the east - were 
intended to prevent any recurrence of the 
hyksos invasion. 

S. Schoske and H. Brunner, ‘Die Grenzen von 
Zeit und Raum bei den Agvptern’, Archiv fur 
Orientforschung 17 (1954-5), 141-5. 

D. O’Connor, ‘Demarcating the boundaries: an 
interpretation of a scene in the tomb of Mahu, 
cl-Amarna’, BES9 (1987-8), 41-51. 

S. Quirke, ‘Frontier or border? The northeast 
Delta in Middle Kingdom texts’, The 
archaeology, geography and history of the Delta , 
ed. A. Nibbi (Oxford, 1989), 261-74. 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 73-92. 

bread see FOOD and offering table 

bronze see copper and bronze 

Bubastis see tell basta 


Sacred bull of montu at Hermonthis 
(Armant) south of Luxor. Just as his northern 
counterpart, the apis, was considered to be the 
divine incarnation of the god Ptah, so the 
Buchis was believed to be the principal physi¬ 

cal manifestation (or BA) of ra and osiris. Like 
the Apis bulls, each Buchis was chosen on the 
basis of special markings, consisting of a white 
body and black face, and the Roman writer 
Macrobius (f.AD 400) described the bulls as 
changing colour with every hour and having 
hair which grew backwards. 

After death, each successive Buchis bull was 
interred in a great underground catacomb 
known as the Bucheum (sec serapeum), which 
was discovered in 1927 by Robert Mond and 
W. B. Emery. As in the case of the Apis, the 
mothers of the bulls were also interred, and 
their catacomb at Armant is known as the 
Baqariyyah. The Buchis bulls’ sarcophagi 
were of sandstone rather than granite, but, as 
in the case of the Saqqara Serapeum, the site 
was much plundered. Burials were made from 
the time of Nectanebo u (360-343 bc) until the 
reign of Diocletian (ad 284-305). There is evi¬ 
dence for the use of the site from the 18th 
Dynasty onwards, but burials dating to that 
time or earlier remain undiscovered. 

R. L. Mond and O. H. Myers, The Bucheum 
(London, 1934). 


Egyptian site in Lower Nubia, located on the 
west bank of the Nile, near the second 
cataract, and about 260 km upstream from 




View of the 12th-Dynasty ramparts at Buhen. 


Aswan. The remains were first studied in 1819 
but mainly excavated between 1957 and 1964. 
The settlement at Buhen was founded in the 
Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc) as a centre for 
Egyptian mining expeditions. An impressive 
array of mud-brick fortifications was con¬ 
structed around the settlement in the 12th 
Dynasty (1985-1795 bc), thus transforming it 
into a military garrison controlling the area to 
the north of the second Nile cataract. The 
12th-Dynastv settlement consisted of several 
regular, rectangular blocks of housing separat¬ 
ed by six major streets. The subsequent New 
Kingdom town was undoubtedly much more 
of a civilian setdemcnt, as the frontier of 
Egypt was pushed further south than the 
fourth Nile cataract, thus considerably reduc¬ 
ing Buhen’s military importance. 

The methods employed by W. B. Emery at 
Buhen were closer to those of the excavators of 
during the 1930s and 1940s than those 
employed by archaeologists working on settle¬ 
ment sites elsewhere in the world during the 
1960s. However, Emery’s approach was neces¬ 
sarily ad hoc owing to the imminence of the 
site’s flooding by Lake Nasser (see ASWAN I iigi i 
dam), and the excavations were hampered by 
considerable post-depositional disturbance of 

left Plan of the Middle Kingdom fortress at 

the stratigraphy of the Pharaonic remains at 
the site. 

R. A. CAMINOS, The New Kingdom temples of 
Buhen , 2 vols (London, 1974). 

W. B. Emery et al., The fortress of Buhen, 2 vols 
(London, 1979). 


Symbol of strength, masculinity and fertility 
which, from the earliest historical times, 
seems to have been regarded as an embodi¬ 
ment of royal might (see narmer). The heads 
of bulls, perhaps representing sacrificed ani¬ 
mals, were sometimes used in Predynastic 
and Early Dynastic architecture, as in 
Mastaba 3504 at Saqqara, dating to the reign 
of the lst-Dynasty ruler djet, where clay- 
heads furnished with real bulls’ horns were 
set in front of the palace-fayade-style walls of 
the tomb. 

The epithet ‘mighty bull’ or ‘bull of Horus’ 
was held by several pharaohs of the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc). The king might 
also be described as the ka muteff' bull of his 
mother’), and the royal mother might hersell 
take the form of a cow. Similarly, it was the 
wild bull which was often depicted as the prey 
of the king in hunting scenes. The Nile inun¬ 
dation was sometimes depicted as a bull, since 
both were strongly associated with the renew¬ 
al of fertility. This connection between fertili¬ 
ty, water and bulls probably also explains the 
occasional representations of the primordial 
lake nun with the head of a bull. 

Bulls were also associated with solar 
imagery; the ‘bull of ra’ is mentioned as early 

as the 5th Dynasty (2494—2345 bc) and in the 
pyramid texts, and the cult of the mneyis bull 
of Heliopolis was specifically encouraged by 
Akhcnaten (1352-1336 bc) because of its solar 
associations. There were, however, also strong 
links with the moon and the constellation of 
Ursa Major. A number of bulls enjoyed special 
status as sacred animals, notably the apis and 
BUCHis bulls which were interred in catacombs 
at saqqara and ar m ant respectively. 

E. Otto, Beil rage zur Geschichte der St ierkulle in 
Aegypten (Berlin, 1938). 

P. Behrens, ‘Stierkampf’, Lex ikon der 
Agyptologie vi, ed. W. I lelck, E. Otto and W. 
Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1986), 16-17. 

W. IIelck, ‘Sticrgottcr’, Lexikon der Agyptologie 
vi, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1986), H-16. 

R. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art (London, 
1992), 56-7. 

burial see canopic jars; coiti.ns and 
sarcophagi; funerary beliefs; mastaba; 
mummification and pyramids 

Buto see tell el-fara‘in 

Byblos (Gubla, Jubeil) 

Ancient coastal town, the site of which is locat¬ 
ed in modern Lebanon (formerly c:\NAAN), 
about 40 km north of Beirut. The principal 
settlement, known in the Akkadian language as 
Gubla, has a long history extending from the 
Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age when the 
population appears to have moved to a nearby 
site now covered by a modern village. 

The importance of Byblos lay in its function 
as a port, and from around the time of Egypt’s 
unification it was a source of timber. The 
famous cedars of Lebanon, and other goods, 
passed through it, and Egyptian objects are 
found there from as early as the 2nd Dynasty 
(2890-2686 bc). Egyptian culture of the 
Middle Kingdom had an especially strong 
influence on the court of its Middle Bronze 
Age rulers, and among the objects found from 
the royal tombs of this period are several bear¬ 
ing the names of Amenemhat ill (1855-1808 
bc) and iv (1808-1799 bc) of the 12th Dynasty. 
Egyptian objects included ivory, ebony and 
gold while local imitations used other materials 
and were executed in a less accomplished style. 

The site had several religious buildings 
including the so-called ‘Obelisk Temple’, ded¬ 
icated to Ba‘alat Gebal, the ‘Lady of Byblos’, a 
local form of astarte. One of the obelisks 
erected to her was inscribed with hieroglyphs. 
She was identified with HATHOR, a connection 
which may have helped establish Astarte as a 
goddess in Egypt. 




In the New Kingdom the city features 
prominently in the amarna LETTERS, since its 
ruler, Ribaddi, sought military assistance from 
the Egyptian pharaoh. On this occasion Byblos 
fell into enemy hands, but was later regained. A 
sarcophagus found with objects of Ramescs ji 
(1279-1213 bc) and showing Egyptian influ¬ 
ence is important for its later (tenth century 
bc) inscription for Ahiram, a local ruler, which 
is in early alphabetic characters. However, by 
the time of Rameses xi (1099-1069 bc), last 
king of the New Kingdom, Egypt had become 
so weak and impoverished that it no longer 
commanded the respect of cities such as 
Byblos, and the Report of Wenamum tells how 
an Egyptian official was shabbily treated by a 
high-handed prince of Byblos, something 
which would previously have been unthinkable. 
The importance of Byblos itself gradually 
declined in favour of the neighbouring ports of 
Tyre and Sidon. 

R Montet, Byblos el TEgypte, 2 vols (Paris, 


M. Dunand, Foui/les de Byblos (Paris, 1939-58). 

N. JiDEjlAN, Byblos through the ages (Beirut, 


J.-E Salles, La necropole ‘k ’ de Byblos (Paris, 


The earliest Egyptian calendars were based on 
lunar observations combined with the annual 
cycle of the Nile lnundation, measured with 
NILOMETERS. On this basis the Egyptians 
divided the year into twelve months and three 
seasons: akhet (the inundation itself), peret 
(spring time, when the crops began to emerge) 
and shemu (harvest time). Each season consist¬ 
ed of four thirty-day months, and each month 
comprised three ten-day weeks. This was an 
admirably simple system, compared with the 
modern European calendar of unequal 
months, and it was briefly revived in France at 
the time of the Revolution. 

The division of the day and night into 
twelve hours each appears to have been initiat¬ 
ed by the Egyptians, probably bv simple anal¬ 
ogy with the twelve months of the year, but 
the division of the hour into sixty minutes was 

introduced by the Babylonians. The smallest 
unit of time recognized in ancient Egypt was 
the at, usually translated as ‘moment’ and hav¬ 
ing no definite length. 

The Egyptian year was considered to begin 
on 19 July (according to the later Julian calen¬ 
dar), which was the date of the heliacal rising 
of the dog star Sirius (see ASTRONOMY and 
astrology and sopdet). Surviving textual 
accounts of the observation of this event form 
the linchpin of the traditional chronology of 
Egypt. However, even with the addition of five 
intercalary ‘epagomenal’ days (corresponding 
to the birthdays of the deities Osiris, Isis, 
Horus, Seth and Nephthys), a discrepancy 
gradually developed between the lunar year of 
365 days and the real solar year, which was 
about six hours longer. This effectively meant 
that the civil year and the genuine seasonal 
year were synchronized only once every 1460 
years, although this does not seem to have 
been regarded as a fatal flaw until the 
Ptolemaic period, when the concept of the 
‘leap year' was introduced in the Alexandrian 
calendar, later forming the basis for the Julian 
and Gregorian calendars. 

LEFT Flask for water from the rising Nile at the 
beginning of the flood, marking the start of the 
New Year. This type of New Year flask ’ appears 
in the Late Period, no earlier than the 7th century 
bc, perhaps inspired by foreign vessel shapes. Late 
Period, after 600 bc, green faience of unknown 
provenance, it. 13 cm. (ea24651, drawn by 


BELOW Calendar in which the lucky and unlucky 
days of the year are marked in black and red 
respectively. Third Intermediate Period to Late 
Period, papyrus and pigment, 11 . 24 cm. ( ea10474 , 
sheet 2) 




As well as the civil calendar there were also 
separate religious calendars consisting of fes¬ 
tivals and ceremonies associated with partic¬ 
ular deities and temples (e.g. the Feast of 
Opet at Thebes, celebrated in the second 
month of akhet ). The priests often calculated 
the dates of these according to the lunar 
month of about 29.5 days rather than accord¬ 
ing to the civil calendar, since it was essential 
that many of them should coincide with par¬ 
ticular phases of the agricultural or astro¬ 
nomical cycle. 

R. A. PARKER, The calendars of ancient Egypt 
(Chicago, 1950). 

_ ? ‘Sothic dates and calendar “adjustments” ’, 

/ME 9 (1952), 101-8. 

__ ‘The beginning of the lunar month in 

ancient Egypt’, fNES 29 (1970), 217-20. 

R. Krauss, Sothis- und Monddaten (Hildesheim, 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 57-71. 

Cambyses see Persia, Persians 


Although the single-humped Arabian camel 
(Camelus dromedarius , more accurately 
described as a dromedary) figures prominent¬ 
ly in the modern popular image of Egypt, it 
was very much a late arrival among the 
domesticated animals of the Nile valley. 
Remains of the double-humped Bactrian 
camel have been found at sites such as Shahr-i 
Sokhta in eastern Iran dating to the third mil¬ 
lennium bc, but the earliest evidence for the 
domestication of the single-humped species 
in the Near East dates to the ninth century bc. 
When the ASSYRIAN king Esarhaddon invaded 
Egypt in 671 bc, he is said to have been aided 
by camel-using bedouin from the Arabian 

It used to be thought that domesticated 
camels did not appear in the Nile valley until 
the Ptolemaic period, but the earliest date is 
now considered to be the late ninth century BC, 
in the light of the discovery of a camel’s 
mandible and a pellet of camel dung at the 
Lower Nubian site of qasr ibrim. The two 
finds were excavated during the 1980s from 
separate archaeological contexts dating to the 
early Napatan period, and both dates were 
later confirmed by radiocarbon analysis. 

L Kohler, Zur Domestikation des Kamels 
(Hanover, 1981). 

L L. Mason, ‘Camels’, Evolution of domesticated 
animals, ed. I. L. Mason (London, 1984). 

R Rowley-Conwy, ‘The camel in the Nile 
valley: new radiocarbon accelerator dates from 
Qasr Ibrim’, JEA 74 (1988), 245-8. 

Canaan, Canaanites 

The region that was occupied by the 
Canaanite people in the Middle and Late 
Bronze Ages (part of the area described by 
the ancient Egyptians as Retenu) roughly 
corresponds to modern Lebanon, on the 
northern coast of the Levant. This territory 
essentially consisted of a number of city- 
states, including byblos, Lachish, megiddo 
and Ugarit. 

A typical ‘Canaanite amphora' from el-Amarna. 

H. 58.8 cm. fust as the territorial and ethnic 
connotations of the name *Canaan are somewhat 
ambiguous, so the term ‘Canaanite amphora ’ is 
conventionally applied to this type of Bronze Age 
pottery vessel, although it was used for 
transporting commodities not only in Cannon but 
throughout the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean 
and Egypt. The name reflects the fact that the form 
clearly originated in Syria-Palestine, although 
local copies were made elsewhere. 

The Canaanites were a Semitic people 
related to the hyksos, who had invaded Egypt 
in the Second Intermediate Period. They 
occupied this part of the Levant during the 
Late Bronze Age from around 2000 to 1200 bc, 
after which they were displaced by the 
Israelites and Philistines from the south and 
Phoenicians from the north. Several of their 
cities, such as Byblos, remained important 
under their new masters, and much of 
Canaanite culture is reflected in that of the 

Canaan acted as a kind of ‘clearing house’ 
for the trade not only of itself but of its neigh¬ 
bours, the Egyptians, the hittites, and the 
states of Mesopotamia, and was much influ¬ 
enced by them. It may have been the need to 
develop sophisticated record-keeping or to 
deal with traders of many nationalities which 
led to the development here of an alphabetic 
script around 1700 BC, roughly the same date 

as the appearance of alphabetic inscriptions at 
Serabit el-Khadim in SINAI. These are known 
as the Proto-Sinaitic or Proto-Canaanite 
scripts (see byblos). 

K. Kenyon, Amorites and Canaanites (Oxford, 

A. R. Millard, ‘The Canaanites’, Peoples of Old 
Testament times , cd. D. J. Wiseman (Oxford, 

1973), 29-52. 

J. F. Healy, ‘The early alphabet’, Reading the past 
(London, 1990), 197-257. 

D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in 
ancient times (Princeton, 1992), 167-8,192-213. 

canopic jars 

Stone and ceramic vessels used for the burial 
of the viscera removed during mummifica¬ 
tion. The term ‘canopic’ derives from the 
misconception that they were connected with 
the human-headed jars which were wor¬ 
shipped as personifications of the god osiris 
by the inhabitants of the ancient Egyptian port 
of Canopus (named after the Homeric charac¬ 
ter who was Menelaus’ pilot). The ‘Canopus 
of Osiris’ image appeared on some Roman 
coins from the Alexandrian mint, and the 
name was therefore chosen by early 
Egyptologists to refer to any jar with a stopper 
in the form of a human head. 

The practice of preserving eviscerated 
organs during mummification is first attested 
in the burial of hetepiieres, mother of the 4th- 
Dynasty ruler Khufu (2589-2566 bc), at giza. 
Her viscera were stored in a travertine 
(‘Egyptian alabaster’) chest divided into four 
compartments, three of which contained the 
remains of her organs in natron, while the 
fourth held a dry organic material. In later 
burials, specific elements of the viscera were 
placed under the protection of four anthropo¬ 
morphic genii known as the sons of horus, 
who were themselves protected by tutelary 
deities guarding the four cardinal points. The 
human-headed Imsetv (linked with ISIS and 
the south) protected the liver; the ape-headed 
Hapy (linked with nephthys and the north) 
cared for the lungs; the jackal-headed 
Duamutef (linked with neith and the east) 
guarded the stomach; and the falcon-headed 
Qebehsenuef (linked with serket and the 
west) looked after the intestines. 

During the First Intermediate Period 
(2181-2055 bc) the jars began to be provided 
with stoppers in the form of human heads, and 
at this time the canopic bundles were some¬ 
times also decorated with human-faced masks. 
By the late Middle Kingdom a set of canopic 
equipment could comprise two chests (a 
stone-carved outer container and a wooden 
inner one) holding four jars furnished with 




Wooden dummy canopic jars for an unnamed 
person. 21st Dynasty, c.IOOO BC, tt. of human- 
headed jar 31 cm. (m9562-5) 

stoppers in the form of human heads. In the 
early 18th Dynasty the stoppers were still 
human-headed, as in the case of the canopic 
equipment of tutankhamun, but from the 
later 18th Dynasty onwards it became more 
common for the stoppers to take the form of 
the characteristic heads of each of the four 
genii, and by the 19th Dynasty these had com¬ 
pletely replaced the human-headed type. 

In the Third Intermediate Period 
(1069-747 bc) mummified viscera were usual¬ 
ly returned to the body, sometimes accompa¬ 
nied by models of the relevant genii, but 
empty or dummy canopic jars were occasion¬ 
ally still included in rich burials. Canopic 
equipment is found in Ptolemaic tombs but 
had ceased to be used by the Roman period. 
The last known royal canopic jars belonged to 
APRIES (589-570 bc), and one of these survived 
through its reuse as a vessel containing the 
body of a mummified hawk at Saqqara. 

W. C. Hayes, Scepter of Egypt \ (New York, 

1953), 320-6. 

G. Rkisnkr, Canopies (Cairo, 1967). 

C. Dolzani, I asi canopi (Milan, 1982). 

B. Luscmer, Untersuchungen zu Agyptischen 
Kanopenkdslcn (Hildesheim, 1990). 

A. DODSON, The canopic equipment of the kings of 
Egypt (London, 1994). 


The motif of the bound foreign captive is one 
of the most frequent and potent elements in 
ancient Egyptian iconography. The narmer 

palette and many other decorated royal arte¬ 
facts of the late Predynastic and Early 
Dynastic periods feature scenes of the king 
inflicting humiliation on foreign captives. The 
earliest example of the archetypal scene of the 
pharaoh striking a bound captive was found on 
the painted wall of Tomb 100 at hierakonpo- 
lis in the late fourth millennium bc;, and the 
same ‘smiting scene’ was still being depicted 
thousands of years later, on the pylons of 
Egyptian temples of the Greco-Roman period. 
On the Narmer macehead (now in the 

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), a depiction of 
an Early Dynastic royal ritual shows three 
bound captives running between two sets of 
three cairns (perhaps symbolizing Egypt's 

Limestone and wooden statues of foreign 
captives have been found in the 5th- and 6th- 
Dynastv pyramid complexes of Rancferef, 
Nyuserra, Djedkara-lsesi, Unas, Teti, Pepy i 
and Pepy n at Saqqara and abusir. The French 
archaeologist Jean-Philippe Lauer has sug¬ 
gested that there may have been as many as a 
hundred statues of captives in each pyramid 
complex, perhaps placed in lines along either 
side of the causeway linking the valley and 
mortuary temples. Later in the Pharaonic 
period, schematic representations of bound 
captives were used in cursing rituals, as in the 
case of five early 12th-Dynasty alabaster cap¬ 
tive figures (now in the Egyptian Museum, 
Cairo) inscribed with hieratic execration 
texts comprising lists of the names of Nubian 
princes accompanied by insults. 

Throughout the Pharaonic and Greco- 
Roman periods the depiction of the bound 
captive continued to be a popular theme of 
temple and palace decoration. The inclusion 
of bound captives in the decoration of aspects 
of the fittings and furniture of royal palaces - 
particularly contexts where the king might 

Detail of the relief decoration on the base of a statue 
of Raineses it at Luxor temple, showing three foreign 
captives. / 9tli Dynasty, c.1250 bc. ( 




place his feet, such as painted pavements and 
footstools - served to reinforce the pharaoh’s 
total suppression of foreigners and probably 
also symbolized the elements of ‘unrule’ that 
the gods required the king to control. There 
are therefore a number of depictions in Greco- 
Roman temples showing lines of gods captur¬ 
ing birds, wild animals and foreigners in clap¬ 
nets (see HUNTING), rekhyt birds were also 
sometimes used as symbols of foreign captives 
and subject peoples. 

The captives’ role as metaphors for the con¬ 
tainment of the forces of chaos is also to be 
seen in the necropolis seal used in the Valley of 
the Kings, which consists of a depiction of 
anubis surmounting nine foreign captives rep¬ 
resenting the dangers threatening royal tombs. 
Many of the reliefs in New Kingdom temples 
list the foreign peoples and cities whom the 
Egyptians had conquered (or would have liked 
to conquer), often writing the names of the 
polities inside schematic depictions of bound 

J.-R Lauer and J. Leclant, ‘Decouverte de 
statues dc prisonniers au temple dc la pvramide 
de Pepi Ier’, RdE 21 (1969), 55-62. 

M. Verner, l Lcs statuettes de prisonniers en hois 
d’Abousir’, RdE 36 (1985), 145-52. 

G. Posener, Cinq figures d'envoutement (Cairo, 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 18-19. 

Carter, Howard (1874-1939) 

Born in Kensington, the son of Samuel John 
Carter (an animal painter), it was his talent as 
a draughtsman that enabled Carter to join the 
Archaeological Survey of Egypt in 1891, 
when he was only seventeen. He received his 
training as an excavator and epigrapher from 
some of the most important Egyptologists of 
the late nineteenth century, including Gaston and Flinders petrie, with whom he 
worked at f.l-amarna in 1892. Between 1893 
and 1899 he worked as a draughtsman for 
Edouard Naville at defr el-bahri, and in 1899 
he was appointed Inspector General of the 
monuments of Upper Egypt, in w hich capac¬ 
ity he installed the first electric lights in the 
valley of the kings and the temples at abu 
simbel. In 1903 he resigned from the 
Egyptian Antiquities Service after a dispute 
with French tourists at Saqqara. I Ie then 
worked for four years as a painter and dealer 
m antiquities, until the offer of finance from 
Lord Carnarvon enabled him to return to 
excavation in the Valley of the Kings. 
Although he discovered six royal tombs at 
Thebes, his most famous achievement w'as 
undoubtedly the unearthing of the virtually 

undisturbed tomb of tutankhamun, in 
November 1922, finally rewarding Carnarvon 
for his support over the preceding fifteen 
years. Carter spent the remaining seventeen 
years of his life recording and analysing the 
funerary equipment from the tomb, a task 
which is still incomplete. 

H. Carter and P. E. Newberry, The tomb of 
Thoutmosis if (London, 1904). 

FI. Carter, The tomb ofTut.Ankb.Amen , 3 vols 
(London, 1923-33). 

T. G. H. James, Howard Carter: the path to 
Tutankhamun (London, 1992). 

N. Reeves and J. Taylor, Howard Carter before 
Tutankhamun (London, 1992). 

Gilded cartonnage mummy mask of an unnamed 
woman, whose vulture headdress almost certainly 
indicates that she was a princess. Middle 
Kingdom, c. / 900 nc, n. 61 cm. (t: >29770) 


Material consisting of layers of linen or 
papyrus stiffened with gesso (plaster) and 
often decorated with paint or gilding. Ii was 
most commonly used for making mummy 
masks, mummy cases, anthropoid coffins and 
other funerary items. The earliest cartonnage 
mummy masks date to the First Intermediate 
Period, although a few surviving examples of 
Old Kingdom mummies have thin layers of 




plaster over the linen wrappings covering the 
face, perhaps representing an earlier stage in 
the development of the material. 

J. H. Taylor, ‘The development of cartonnage 
cases’, Mummies and magic , ed. S. D’Auria, P. 
Lacovara and C. Roehrig (Boston, 1988), 166-8. 
—, Egyptian coffins (Princes Risborough, 1989), 

CartOUChe (Egyptian shemi) 

Elliptical outline representing a length of 
knotted rope with which certain elements of 
the Egyptian royal titulary were surround¬ 
ed. The French word cartouche , meaning ‘gun 
cartridge’, was originally given to the roval 
frame by Napoleon’s soldiers and savants, 

Detail of the facade of the 'great temple ’ at Abu 
Simbel, consisting of a cartouche containing the 
prenomen oJ'Rameses // (User-Maat-Ra). 19th 
Dynasty , 1279-1213 bc. (i. shaw) 

because of its cartridge-like shape. From the 
4th Dynasty (2613-2494 bc) onwards the line 
was drawn around the king’s ‘throne name’ 
(prenomen or nesw-bit) and ‘birth name’ 
(nomen or sa Ra). It proved invaluable to early 
scholars such as Jean-Fran^ois Champollion 
who were attempting to decipher the hiero¬ 
glyphic script, in that it was presumed to indi¬ 
cate which groups of signs were the royal 

The cartouche was essentially an elongated 
form of the shen hieroglyph, and both signs 
signified the concept of ‘encircling protection’ 
denoted by a coil of rope folded and tied at the 
end. The physical extension of the original shen 
sign into a cartouche was evidently necessitat¬ 
ed by the increasing length of royal names. The 
symbolic protection afforded by a cartouche, 
which may have been a diagram of the universe 
being encircled by the sun, is graphically illus¬ 
trated by the choice of this sign for the shape of 
some 18th-and 19th-Dynastv sarcophagi, such 
as that of Merenptah (1213-1203 bc). Some of 
the early 18th-Dynasty burial chambers in the 
Valley of the Kings, as in the tomb of thut- 
mose m (1479—1425 bc) (kv 34), were also car- 
touche-shaped, thus allowing the king’s 

mummy, like his name, to be physically sur¬ 
rounded by the cartouche. 

W. Barta, ‘Der Konigsring als Symbol 
zyklischer Widerkehr’, ZAS 98 (1970), 5-16. 

P. Kaplony, ‘Konigsring’, Lexikon der 
Agyptologie in, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. 
Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1980), 610-26. 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 194-5. 


Important both as a domestic pet and as a 
symbol of deities such as bastet and ra (the 
‘great cat of Heliopolis’). There were two 
indigenous feline species in ancient Egypt: the 
jungle cat (Felis chans) and the African wild cat 

Figure of a cal sacred to the goddess Bastet, wearing 
protective wedjat-cj/c amulet. Late Period, after 600 
bc, bronze with gold rings, h. 38 cm. (m64391) 

(Felis silvestris libycu), the former being found 
only in Egypt and southeastern Asia. The ear¬ 
liest Egyptian remains of a cat were found in a 
tomb at the Predynastic site of Mostagedda, 
near modern Asyut, suggesting that the 
Egyptians were already keeping cats as pets in 
the late fourth millennium bc. 

The Egyptian word for ‘cat’ was the ono¬ 
matopoeic term miw, which, although not 
mentioned in the pyramid texts, found its 
way into various personal names from the Old 
Kingdom onwards, including the 22nd- 
Dynasty pharaoh known as Pamiu or Pimav, 
literally ‘the tomcat’ (773-767 bc). The earliest 
Egyptian depiction of the cat took the form of 
three hieroglyphic symbols, each representing 
seated cats. These formed part of the phrase 
‘Lord of the City of Cats’ inscribed on a stone 
block from el-lisht, which may date as early 
as the reign of pepy ii (2278-2184 bc). From 
the 12th Dynasty onwards, cats were increas¬ 
ingly depicted in the painted decoration of 
private tombs, either participating in the 
scenes of hunting and fowling in the marshes 
or seated beneath the chair of the ow ner. 

It was in the funerary texts of the New 
Kingdom that the cat achieved full apotheosis: 
in the Amduat (see funerary texts) it is por¬ 
trayed as a demon decapitating bound cap¬ 
tives and in the Litany of Ra it appears to be a 
personification of the sun-god himself, bat¬ 
tling with the evil serpent-god apophis. As a 
result of its connection with the sun-god, the 
cat was depicted on a number of Ramesside 
stelae found in the Theban region. From the 
Late Period onwards, large numbers of sacred 
cats were mummified and deposited in under¬ 
ground galleries at such sites as Bubastis (tell 
basta) and speos artemidos (see also sacred 
animals), and numerous bronze votive stat¬ 
uettes have also survived, including the 
‘Gayer-Anderson cat’ in the collection of the 
British Museum. 

L. Stork., ‘Katze’, Lexikon der Agyptologie ill, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 367-70. 

P. L. Armitage and J. Clutton-brock, 

‘A radiological and histological investigation into 
the mummification of cats from ancient Egypt’, 
Journal of Archaeological Science 8 (1981), 


J. Malek, The cat in ancient Egypt (London, 


cataracts, Nile 

Rocky areas of rapids in the middle Nile valley, 
caused by abrupt geological changes. There 
are six cataracts in the section of the Nile that 
passes through the area of ancient Nubia, 
between Aswan and Khartoum. 





cavetto cornice 

Distinctive form of concave moulding, pro¬ 
jecting from the tops of many Egyptian ste¬ 
lae, PYLONS, altars or walls. The characteris¬ 
tic hollow, quarter-circle shape perhaps 
derives from the appearance of the tops of 
fronds of vegetation used in Predvnastic huts, 
before the emergence of mud-brick or stone 

S. Clarke and R. Engelbach, Ancient Egyptian 
masonry: the building craft (London, 1930), 5-6. 
[reprinted as Ancient Egyptian construction and 
architecture (New York, 1990)] 

cemeteries see mastaba and pyramids 

C Group (C Horizon) 

Nubian cultural entity roughly synchronous 
with the period in Egyptian history between 
the Old and New Kingdoms (r.2494-1550 
bc). The indigenous C-Group people of 
nubia were subjected to varying degrees of 
social and economic influence from their 
powerful northern neighbours. Their princi- 

C-Group bowl ofpolished incised ware from Faras, 
c. 2340-1550 bc, h. 8.1 cm. (ea51230) 

pal archaeological characteristics included 
handmade black-topped pottery vessels bear¬ 
ing incised decoration filled with white pig¬ 
ment, as well as artefacts imported from 

Their subsistence pattern was dominated 
by cattle-herding, and their social system was 
essentially tribal. In the early 12th Dynasty the 
C-Group territory in Lower Nubia was taken 
over by the Egyptians, who established a string 
of fortresses between the 2nd and 3rd Nile 
cataracts. It has been suggested that one of the 
effects of the Egyptian occupation in the 
Middle Kingdom may have been to prevent 
the C Group from developing contacts with 
the more sophisticated kerma culture that was 
developing in Upper Nubia. 

B. Trigger, Nubia under the pharaohs (London, 

J. H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, 1991). 

Champollion, Jean-Frangois (1790-1832) 
French linguist and Egyptologist who was 
responsible for the most important achieve¬ 
ment in the history of the study of ancient 
Egypt: the decipherment of hieroglyphs. He 
is sometimes described as Champollion ‘le 
jeune’, because his brother, Jacques-Joseph 
Champollion-Figeac, w as also a scholar. Born 
at Figeac, he was sent to the Lyceum at 
Grenoble at the age of eleven and had already 
delivered a paper on the ancient Egyptian 
language by the time he left in 1807. He sub¬ 
sequently studied under the pioneering 
Egyptologist Silvestre de Sagy at the College 
de France in Paris. 

Equipped with an excellent knowledge of 
Hebrew, Coptic, Arabic, Syriac and 
Chaldaean, he embarked on the task of deci¬ 
phering hieroglyphs, using the rosetta stone 
(a Ptolemaic inscription consisting of the same 
decree written in Greek, demotic and hiero¬ 
glyphics) as his principal guide. After examin¬ 
ing Egyptian antiquities in various European 
collections, Champollion undertook a detailed 
survey of Egypt, along with Ippolito roselli- 
ni in 1828-9. Although his Lettre d M. Dacier 
of 1822 is usually regarded as the turning 
point in his studies, he did not achieve a satis¬ 
factory understanding of the language until 
the completion of his grammar and dictionary 
shortly before his death from a stroke in 1832. 
J.-F. Champollion, Lettre a M. Dacier relative a 
l'alphabet des hierog/yphes phonetiques (Paris, 


—, Monuments de VEgypte et de la Nubie, 4 vols 
(Paris, 1835-47). 

Fragment of wall-painting from the tomb-chapel of 
Nebamun at Thebes, showing two chariots. The 
upper one is pulled by two horses, whereas the lower 
one appears to be drawn by mules. 18th Dynasty, 
c. 1400 bc, painted plaster, n. 43 cm. (ea37982) 

F. LI. Griffith, ‘The decipherment of the 
hieroglyphs’, jfEA 37 (1951), 38-46. 

M. Pourpoint, Champollion et I'enigme 
egyptienne (Paris, 1963). 

chantress see cult singers and temple 



Although the origins of the horse-drawn char¬ 
iot have proved difficult to ascertain, its arrival 
in Egypt can be fairly reliably dated to the 
Second Intermediate Period (1650-1550 bc). 
The surviving textual and pictorial evidence 
suggests that the chariot {wererel or merkebet) 
arrived in Egypt at roughly the same time as 
the iiyksos. It consisted of a light wooden 
semicircular, open-backed framework, fur¬ 
nished with an axle and a pair of four- or six- 
spoked wheels. A long pole attached to the axle 
enabled the chariot to be drawn by a pair of 
horses. Its importance as an innovative item of 
military technology was based on its use as a 
mobile platform for archers, allowing the 
enemy to be bombarded by arrows from many 
different directions. Although the chariot is 
often portrayed in temple and tomb decora¬ 
tion from the New' Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) 
onwards, only eleven examples have survived, 
four of which are from the tomb of 
tutankiiamun . A Ramesside papyrus in the 
British Museum (P. Anastasi i) provides an 
insight into the maintenance of chariotry with 
a description of an Egyptian charioteer’s visit 




to a repair shop in the Levantine coastal city of 

The chariot was not only used in battle by 
the maryannu , an elite corps of the Egyptian 
army in the New Kingdom, it was also 
regarded as an essential part of the royal 
regalia. Depictions of the king charging 
enemies in his chariot became a common fea¬ 
ture of the exterior walls of temples as sym¬ 
bols of ‘the containment of unrule 1 , roughly 
comparable with the more ancient theme of 
the king smiting foreigners with a mace (see 

M. A. Littauer and J. H. Crouwkl, Wheeled 
vehicles ami ridden animals in the Ancient Near 
East (Leiden and Cologne, 1979). 

A. R. Schulman, ‘Chariots, chariotrv and the 
Hyksos’, jfSSEA 10 (1980), 105-53. 

M. A. Littauer and J. H. Crouwel, Chariots and 
related equipment from the tomb ofTutankhamun 
(Oxford, 1985). 

P. R. S. Moorey, ‘The emergence of the light, 
horse-drawn chariot in the Near East 
r. 2000-1500 b.c..\ WA 18/2 (1986), 196-215. 

Cheops see kiiufu 

Chephren see kiiafra 

C Horizon see c: group 


A great deal of evidence has survived from 
Egyptian medical and magical documents 
concerning precautions taken by WOMEN to 
ensure rapid conception, safe pregnancy and 
successful childbirth. The graves of children 
have survived in various cemeteries from the 
Predynastic period onwards, and attempts 
have been made to assess the rate of infant 
mortality on the basis of the ratios of adult to 
child burials, as well as the study of the human 
remains themselves. Undoubtedly infant mor¬ 
tality was high, but families were nevertheless 
fairly large, averaging perhaps at about five 
children who would actually have reached 
adolescence (assuming the early death of three 
or four offspring). 

Many surviving reliefs, paintings and sculp¬ 
tures depict women suckling their babies, 
including the famous depiction of Tl iutmose 
rn being suckled by the goddess ISIS (in the 
form of a tree) in his tomb in the Valley of the 
Kings (kv 34). The motif of the king being 
suckled by his mother Isis or iiathor was an 
archetypal element of Egyptian religion, per¬ 
haps providing some of the inspiration for the 
image of Madonna and Child in the Christian 
era. A number of magical spells were evident¬ 
ly intended to restore mother’s milk, and a 

similar purpose may have been served by the 
ceramic vessels depicting nursing mothers, 
which have survived from the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) onwards. As far as 
the elite were concerned, wet-nurses were 
often employed, especially by the women of 
the royal family; the position of ‘royal wet- 
nurse 1 was evidently a prestigious office, often 
entitling the individual to be depicted in the 
tomb of the royal individual whom she had 

From at least the Old Kingdom onwards 
(2686-2181 bc), both boys and girls often wore 
a sidelock of youth, marking them out as 
pre-pubescent. The sidelock, essentially a 
tress of hair hanging over the ear, was worn 
until about the age of ten or more. Both 
infants and child-gods such as Harpocrates 
(see iiorus) were regularly depicted with one 
finger in their mouths as a symbol of their 
childishness. Nakedness was also particularly 
common among children, judging from the 
surviving paintings and reliefs of the 
Pharaonic period. It is also clear from such 
funerary art that children, as in all ages, played 
many games and sports, ranging from danc¬ 
ing and wrestling to ball games and races. A 
number of balls have survived, but the iden¬ 
tification of toys has proved more contro¬ 
versial, given the tendency for them to be 

confused with religious and magical para¬ 
phernalia; a ‘doll 1 for instance might equally 
well have erotic or ritualistic significance (see 

Sec also circumcision; clothing; educa¬ 

E. Feucht, ‘Kind 1 , Lexikon derAgyptologie hi, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 424-37. 

G. Pinch, ‘Childbirth and female figurines at 
Deir el-Medina and el-Amarna 1 , Orientalia 52 
(1983), 405-14. 

S. Whale, The family in the Eighteenth Dynasty of 
Egypt: a study of the representation of the family in 
private tombs (Sydney, 1989). 

R. M. and J. J. Janssen, Growing up in ancient 
Egypt (London, 1990). 

E. Strouiial, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 

1992) , 11-29. 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 

1993) , 75-91. 


Modern Egyptologists’ chronologies of 
ancient Egypt combine three basic approach¬ 
es. First, there are ‘relative’ dating methods, 
such as stratigraphic excavation, or the 
‘sequence dating 1 of artefacts, which was 
invented by Flinders pf.trii: in 1899. Second, 
there are so-called ‘absolute’ chronologies, 
based on calendrical and astronomical records 
obtained from ancient texts (see astronomy 
and ASTROLOGY and calendar). Finally, there 
are ‘radiometric’ methods (principally radio¬ 
carbon dating and thermoluminescence), by 
means of which particular types of artefacts or 
organic remains can be assigned dates in terms 
of the measurement of radioactive decay or 
accumulation. The ancient Egyptians dated 
important political and religious events not 
according to the number of years that had 
elpased since a single fixed point in history 
(such as the birth of Christ in the modern 
western calendar) but in terms of the years 
since the accession of each current king (reg- 

King list front the temple of Rameses it at Abydos , 
the lower register of which repeats the birth and 
throne names of Rameses it. 19th Dynasty, c.1250 
bc, painted limestone, //. 1.38 m. (ea117) 

nal years). Dates were therefore recorded in 
the following typical format: ‘day three of the 
second month of peret in the third year ot 
Menkheperra (Thutmose m) 1 . The situation, 
however, is slightly confused by the fact that 
the dates cited in the 5th-Dvnasty king list 
known as the PALERMO stone appear to refer to 
the number of biennial cattle censuses ( hesbet ) 
rather than to the number of years that the 
king had reigned, therefore the number of 




‘years’ in the date has to be doubled to find out 
the actual number of regnal years. 

The names and relative dates of the various 
rulers and dynasties have been obtained from 
a number of textual sources. These range from 
the Aegyptiaca, a history compiled by an 
Egyptian priest called manetiio in the early 
third century bc, to the much earlier king 
lists, mainly recorded on the walls of tombs 
and temples but also in the form of papyri (as 
with the Turin royal canon) or remote desert 
rock-carvings (as with the Wadi Ilammamat 
list). It is usually presumed that Manetho 
himself used king lists of these types as his 

The ‘traditional’ absolute chronologies tend 
to rely on complex webs of textual references, 
combining such elements as names, dates and 
genealogical information into an overall histor¬ 
ical framework which is more reliable in some 
periods than in others. The ‘intermediate peri¬ 
ods’ have proved to be particularly awkward, 
partly because there was often more than one 
ruler or dynasty reigning simultaneously in 
different parts of the country. The surviving 
records of observations of the heliacal rising of 
the dog star Sirius (sopdet) serve both as the 
linchpin of the reconstruction of the Egyptian 
calendar and as its essential link with the 
chronology as a whole. 

The relationship between the calendrical 
and radiometric chronological systems has 
been relatively ambivalent over the years. 
Since the late 1940s, when a series of Egyptian 
artefacts were used as a bench-mark in order 
to assess the reliability of the newly invented 
radiocarbon dating technique, a consensus has 
emerged that the two systems are broadly in 
line. The major problem, however, is that the 
traditional calendrical system of dating, what¬ 
ever its failings, virtually always has a smaller 
margin of error than radiocarbon dates, which 
are necessarily quoted in terms of a broad 
band of dates (i.e. one or two standard devia¬ 
tions), never capable of pinpointing the con¬ 
struction of a building or the making of an 
artefact to a specific year (or even a specific 
decade). The prehistory of Egypt, on the other 
hand, has benefited greatly from the applica¬ 
tion of radiometric dating, since it was previ¬ 
ously reliant on relative dating methods. The 
radiometric techniques have made it possible 
not only to place Petrie’s sequence dates with- 
m a framework of absolute dates (however 
miprecise) but also to push the chronology 
hack into the earlier Neolithic and Palaeolithic 

^ AR RER, ‘The calendars and chronology’, The 
Legacy 0 f Egypt , e d. J. R. Harris (Oxford, 1971), 


R. Krauss, So this- und Monddaten: Studien zur 
aslrorwmischen und technischen Chronologic 
Altagyptens (Ilildesheim, 1985). 

I. M. E. Shaw, ‘Egyptian chronology and the 
Irish Oak calibration \JNES 44/4 (1985), 

K. A. Kitchen, ‘The chronology of ancient 
Egypt’, WA 23 (1991), 201-8. 


Term used to describe phenomena relating to 
the underworld and the earth, including 
deities such as geb, aker and osiris. 

cippus see horus 


The Greek historian Herodotus mentions that 
the Egyptians practised circumcision ‘for 
cleanliness’ sake, preferring to be clean rather 
than comely’; and the practice may well have 
been inaugurated purely for reasons of 
hygiene. Nevertheless, depictions of certain 
uncircumcised individuals in the decoration of 
Old Kingdom mastaba tombs suggest that the 
operation was not universal. 

The act of circumcision may have been per¬ 
formed as part of a ceremony akin to the rites 
of passage in the ‘age-grade systems’ of many 
band and tribal societies. A stele of the First 
Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc:) mentions 
the circumcision of 120 boys at one time, 

Detail of a relief from the mastaba tomb of 
Ankhmahor at Saqqara , showing a priest 
performing an act of circumcision on a boy. 6th 
Dynasty, c .2300 bc. 

which perhaps implies a group of individuals 
of varying ages. It has been suggested, how¬ 
ever, that boys would usually have been about 
fourteen years old when they were circum¬ 
cised. The mummy of a young prince aged 
about eleven, which was found in the tomb of 
Amenhotcp n, is uncircumcised and retains 
the sidelock of youth hairstyle, which was 
therefore perhaps worn by young boys only in 
the years before circumcision. 

The ceremony itself, for which the 
Egyptian term was sebi, was carried out using 
a curved flint knife similar to those employed 
by embalmers. On the basis of this archaizing 
equipment, it has been argued that circumci¬ 
sion was essentially a religious act for the 
Egyptians. On the other hand, it may have 
simply been a practical expedient, given the 
fact that metal knives would hardly have sur¬ 
passed a newly-knapped flint in terms of 
sharpness. Moreover, considering the lack of 
antiseptics, if the cut was as clean and rapid as 
possible, the healing process would probably 
have been more likely to be successful. 

The 6th-Dynasty mastaba of the vizier 
Ankhmahor at Saqqara contains a circumci¬ 
sion scene, which appears to show both the 
cutting and the application of some sort of 
ointment, although the latter is unclear. From 
at least the Late Period onwards (747-332 bc) 
it became compulsory for priests to be circum¬ 
cised, as part of the purification necessary for 
the performance of their temple duties, and 
this further illustrates that it was not compul¬ 
sory for children to be circumcised at adoles¬ 
cence. In the Roman period, a ban on circum¬ 
cision (from which only priests were exempt) 
appears to have been introduced. 

The Egyptians themselves may have regard¬ 
ed circumcision as an ethnic ‘identifier’, judg¬ 
ing from depictions of foreigners in battle 
scenes of the New Kingdom, such as those 
depicted in the mortuary temple of Rameses in 
at medinkt habu. In enumerating enemy dead, 
the Egyptians differentiated between the cir¬ 
cumcised Semites, whose hands were cut off, 
and the uncircumciscd foes - notably Libyans - 
whose penises were removed for the counting. 

Although Strouhal suggests that some 
ancient Egyptian texts refer to ‘uncircum¬ 
cised’ virgins and the Roman writer Strabo 
mentions that female circumcision was prac¬ 
tised by the Egyptians, no physical evidence of 
the operation has yet been found on surviving 
female mummies. 

E Jonckheere, ‘La drconcision des anciens 
Egyptiens’, Centaurus i (1951), 212-34. 

O. Bardis, ‘Circumcision in ancient Egypt’, 
Indiana Journal for the History of Medicine 12/1 
(1967), 22-3. 




E. Strouiial, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 28-9. 


Name given to seven Ptolemaic queens of 
Egypt. The last of these, Cleopatra vn (51-30 
bc), was the most illustrious. Clearly intelli¬ 
gent and politically astute, she was reputedly 
the only Ptolemaic ruler to have learnt the 
Egyptian language. Surprisingly, however, in 
view of the later eulogies of poets and play¬ 
wrights such as Shakespeare, her surviving 
portraits suggest that the historical Cleopatra 
was not especially beautiful. 

Cleopatra vtl first shared a coregency with 
her father Ptolemy XH (80-51 bc) and then 
with her brother Ptolemy xiii (51-47 bc) who 
ousted her from power for a time in 48 bc. Her 
links with Rome were first forged through 
Pompev, who had been appointed as her 
guardian on the death of her father, when he 
had become involved in the financial affairs of 
the Ptolemaic court. Defeated by Caesar at 
Pharsalia in 48 bc:, Pompey fled to Egypt, 
where he was assassinated. In the same year 
Caesar entered Egypt and restored Cleopatra 
to the throne as coregent with her second 
brother, Ptolemy xiv (47—44 bc), whom she 

In 47 bc: she bore a son, Ptolemy Caesarion, 
who she claimed had been fathered by Caesar. 
She visited Caesar in Rome in 46 bc, returning 
after his assassination, whereupon she 
bestowed a similar fate on her brother, replac¬ 
ing him with the young Caesarion; her various 
political manoeuvres then led to her being 
summoned to meet with Mark Antony at 
Tarsus. He spent the winter at Alexandria, 
after which Cleopatra bore him twins; shortly 
afterwards they were officially married, and 
subsequently set about the business of using 
one another for their own political ends. 

In 34 bc, in the so-called ‘Donations of 
Alexandria’, Mark Antony divided various 
parts of the eastern Roman empire between 
Cleopatra and her children, legitimating this 
action to the Senate by informing them that he 
was simply installing client rulers. However, 
Octavian (later Augustus), who was the broth¬ 
er of Mark Antony’s Roman wife, led a propa¬ 
ganda campaign against his brother-in-law and 
Cleopatra, dwelling on their supposed licen¬ 
tious behaviour in Alexandria, and in 32 BC. 
Rome declared war on Cleopatra. The follow¬ 
ing year Octavian defeated Mark Antony at the 
naval battle of Actium, partly because 
Cleopatra’s fleet unexpectedly withdrew from 
the engagement. Octavian pursued them both 
into Egypt, but Antony committed suicide 
and, on 10 August 30 bc, Cleopatra followed 

Figures of Cleopatra vu (left) and her son by 
Julius Caesar, Caesarion (right), making 
offerings. From the south (rear) mall of the temple 
of Hat hor at Dernier a. (p. T. NICHOLSON) 

suit, preferring death to the humiliation of a 
Roman triumph. Octavian then had her eldest 
son, Ptolemy Caesarion, killed. He appointed 
himself pharaoh on 30 August, thenceforth 
treating Egypt as his own private estate. 

J. Quaegebeur, ‘Cleopatra vu and the cults of the 
Ptolemaic queens’, Cleopatra’s Egypt: Age of the 
Ptolemies , ed. R. S. Bianchi (New York, 1988), 

L. Hughf.s-Hallett, Cleopatra (London, 1990). 
J. Whitehorne, Cleopatras (London, 1994). 

clepsydra (‘water clock’) 

Device for measuring time, consisting of a 
water-filled vessel (usually of stone, copper or 
pottery) with a hole in the base through which 
the water gradually drained away. The earliest 
surviving examples date to the 18th Dynasty 
(1550-1295 bc). There are a variety of frag¬ 
ments of stone clepsydrae in the collection of 
the British Museum, including part of a basalt 
vessel dating to the reign of Philip Arrhidaeus 
(r.320 bc), which is marked with vertical lines 
of small holes relating to the twelve hours of 
the night. Part of a cubit rod in the 
Metropolitan Museum, New York, bears the 
words ‘The hour according to the cubit: a 
jar(?) of copper filled with water...’, thus 
implying that the rod was dipped into a copper 
vessel in order to read the time as the water 
level fell. 

B. Cotterell, F. P. Dickson and J. Kamminga, 
‘Ancient Egyptian water-clocks: a reappraisal’, 
Journal of Archaeological Science 13 (1986), 


G. HOlbl, ‘Eine iigyptische Wasseruhr aus 
Ephesus’, Antike Welt 17/1 (1986), 59-60. 

S. CouatouD, ‘Calcul d’un horloge a eau’, 

BSEG 12 (1988), 25-34. 


Despite the fact that arid conditions have 
facilitated the survival of a number of items of 
clothing, primarily from tombs of the New 
Kingdom, textiles have so far not been studied 
in sufficient detail. Modern studies of ancient 
Egyptian clothing are therefore still largely 
based on the study of wall-paintings, reliefs 
and sculptures. 

In general Egyptian clothing was very sim¬ 
ple: men working in the fields or involved in 
craftwork often wore little more than a loin¬ 
cloth or short kilt, although shirt-like gar¬ 
ments have survived from the Early Dynastic 
period onwards, the earliest example being a 
linen dress/shirt from Tarkhan in Lower 
Egypt (f.2800 bc). Clothing can often be used 
as a reliable chronological guide in that the 
Egyptian elite of most periods were generally 
subject to changes in fashion. The dress of 
courtiers of Ramesside times, for instance, 
could be extremely elaborate and the men 
often wore pleated kilts with unusual apron¬ 
like arrangements at the front. 

During the Old Kingdom, women (and 
goddesses) are usually portrayed wearing a 
kind of sheath-dress with broad shoulder 
straps, but by the New Kingdom this had 




evolved into a type of dress with only one 
strap, and by the reign of Amenhotep m 
^—1352 bc) more diaphanous garments 
were being worn. Fine clothing became one of 
the specialist products for which Egypt was 
known in Roman times. The colourful nature 
of the fabrics used in daily life (or perhaps the 
use of bead netting over dresses) is illustrated 
bv the figures of offering bearers from the 
tomb of Meketra (tt280) dating to the early 
Middle Kingdom. 

The excavation of the Theban tomb of the 
architect Kha (tt8) led to the discovery of 
twenty-six knee-length shirts and about fifty 
loincloths, including short triangular pieces 

of material that would have been worn in the 
context of agricultural or building work. 
Seventeen heavier linen tunics were provided 
for winter wear, while two items described as 
‘tablecloths’ were among Kha’s wife’s 
clothes. He and his wife each had their own 
individual laundrymarks, and it is known that 
there were professional launderers attached 
to the workmen’s village at deir ei -Medina 
where Kha and his family lived. A few loin¬ 
cloths made of leather rather than linen have 
also survived, some particularly fine exam¬ 
ples having been excavated from the well- 
preserved tomb of maiherpri in the Valley of 
the Kings (kv36). 

The tomb of tutankhamun (kv62) con¬ 
tained a large selection of textiles, including 
children’s clothing. So far little of his 
wardrobe has been scientifically examined, but 
some of the linen contains gold thread, and 
one kilt was made up of colourful beadwork. 
Decorated textiles became more common in 
the New Kingdom, but were still not com¬ 
mon, some of the best examples deriving from 

LEFT Earliest surviving Egyptian garment: linen 
shirt or dress, comprising a pleated yoke a nd 
sleeves attached to a skirt with weft fringe, 
excavated in 1912 from mast aba 2050 at 
Tarkhan. 1st Dynasty, reign oj Djet, c.2980 BC, 

/.. of sleeve (neck edge to wrist) 58 cm. (petrif. 
museum , 28614Bi) 

BELOW Triangular linen loincloths from the tomb of 
Tutankhamun. 18lh Dynasty, c. 1330 nc, ( Cairo, 
no. 50b) 

the tomb of Thutmose iv (1400-1390 bc, 
kv43) and include crowned uraei (see wadjyt). 
Howard Carter believed these to be ceremoni¬ 
al garments, but more recently it has been sug¬ 
gested that they may have been used as vessel 

Priests, viziers and certain other types of 
officials all marked their status with particular 
items or styles of dress. The vizier, for 
instance, was usually depicted wearing a long 
robe which came up to his armpits, while the 
sm-priest was usually shown wearing a leop¬ 

R. Hall, Egyptian textiles (Princes Risborough, 

G. Vogelsang-Eas twood, Pharaonic Egyptian 
clothing (Leiden, 1993). 


Type of snake that served as the sacred image 
of wadjyt, patron deity of the town of Buto 
(tell el-fara‘in) in the Delta, who came to 
represent Lower Egypt, in contrast to the 
Upper Egyptian vulture-goddess nekhbet. As 
the ruler of the two lands, the king included 
the cobra ( iaret ) and the vulture among his 
titles and insignia (see CROWNS AND royal 
REGALIA and royal titulary). The uraeus was 
sometimes described as ‘the great enchantress’ 
(weret hekam) and could be depicted as a cobra 
with a human head (as on the golden shrine of 
Tutankhamun). Even before its identification 
with the king, the cobra’s protective attributes 
were recognized, and it was identified as the 
eye OF RA, sometimes shown protecting his 
solar disc by spitting fire and venom. Pairs of 
cobras also guarded the gates that divided the 
individual hours of the underworld in the 
Book of Gates (see funerary texts); this is 
presumed to have been the function of the 
gilded wooden cobra found in the tomb of 

I I.-W. Fisqier-Elfert, ‘Uto’, Lexikon der 
Agytopologie vi, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. 
Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1986), 906-11. 

S. Joi INSON, The cobra goddess of ancient Egypt 
(London, 1990). 

coffins and sarcophagi 

The term ‘coffin’ is usually applied to the 
rectangular or anthropoid container in which 
the Egyptians placed the mummified body, 
whereas the word ‘sarcophagus’ (Greek: 
‘flesh-eating’) is used to refer only to the stone 
outer container, invariably encasing one or 
more coffins. The distinction made between 
these two items of Egyptian funerary equip¬ 
ment is therefore essentially an artificial one, 
since both shared the same role of protecting 
the corpse. In terms of decoration and shape, 



coffins and sarcophagi drew on roughly the 
same iconographic and stylistic repertoire. 

The earliest burials in Egypt contain no 
coffins and are naturally desiccated by the hot 
sand. The separation of the corpse from the 
surrounding sand by the use of a coffin or sar¬ 
cophagus ironically led to the deterioration of 
the body, perhaps stimulating developments in 
mummification. The religious purpose of the 
coffin was to ensure the well-being of the 
deceased in the afterlife, literally providing a 
‘house’ for the ka. 

The earliest coffins were baskets or simple 
plank constructions in which the body was 
placed in a flexed position. From these devel¬ 
oped the vaulted house-shaped coffins that 
remained in use into the 4th Dynasty 
(2613-2494 bc). At around this time the 
Egyptians began to bury the corpse in an 
extended position, perhaps because the 
increasingly common practice of evisceration 
(see Canopic jars) made such an arrangement 
more suitable. By the end of the Old 
Kingdom (2181 bc) food offerings were being 
painted on the inside of coffins as an extra 
means of providing sustenance for the 
deceased in the event of the tomb chapel being 
destroyed or neglected. In the Old and Middle 
Kingdoms, a pair of eyes was often painted on 
the side of the coffin that faced east when it 
was placed in the tomb; it was evidently 
believed that the deceased could therefore look 
out of the coffin to see his or her offerings and 
the world from which he or she had passed, as 
well as to view the rising sun. 

Decorated coffins became still more 
important in the First Intermediate Period 

(2181-2055 bc), when many tombs contained 
little mural decoration (see beni iiasan). It 
was thus essential that coffins themselves 
should incorporate the basic elements of the 
tomb, and by the Middle Kingdom 
(2055—1650 bc) they often incorporated 
revised extracts of the pyramid texts, known 
as the coffin texts. This change reflects the 
increased identification of the afterlife with 
osiris, rather than the sun-god ra (see funer¬ 
ary TEXTS). 

Anthropoid coffins first appeared in the 
12th Dynasty (1985-1795 bc), apparently 
serving as substitute bodies lest the original be 
destroyed. With the New Kingdom 
(1550-1069 bc), this form of coffin became 
more popular and the shape became identified 
with Osiris himself, his beard and crossed 
arms sometimes being added. The feathered, 
rishi coffins of the 17th and early 18th Dynasty 
were once thought to depict the wings of the 
goddess ISIS, embracing her husband Osiris, 
but are now considered by some scholars to 
refer to the BA bird. Rectangular coffins were 
effectively replaced by anthropoid types in the 
18th Dynasty, but some of their decorative ele¬ 
ments were retained. 

In the Third Intermediate Period (1069— 
747 bc), coffins, papyri and stelae became the 
main vehicles for funerary scenes that had pre¬ 
viously been carved and painted on the walls 
of tomb chapels. The principal feat ure of most 
of the new' scenes depicted on coffins was the 
Osirian and solar mythology surrounding the 
concept of rebirth (sec OSIRIS and ra), includ¬ 
ing the judgement of the deceased before 
Osiris and the journey into the underworld, 

the voyage of the solar bark, and parts of the 
Litany of Ra. Among the new scenes intro¬ 
duced in the decoration of coffins and on 
funerary papyri was the depiction of the sepa¬ 
ration of the earth-god Geb from the sky- 
goddess NUT. 

The excavation of the 21st- and 22nd- 
Dynasty royal tombs at tanis has provided a 
number of examples of the roval coffins of the 
period (although the sarcophagi w'ere some¬ 
times re-used from the New Kingdom). The 
cache of mummies of high priests of Amun at 
DEiR EL-BAURi has also yielded a large number 
of private coffins of the 21st Dvnastv 
(1069-945 bc). It w as also from the end of the 
New' Kingdom omvards that the interiors of 
coffins began to be decorated again; beneath 
the lid - especially in the 22nd Dvnastv 
(945-715 bc) - there was often a representa¬ 
tion of Nut, w'hile the ‘goddess of the west’ 
(hathor) or the djkd pillar began to be 
portrayed on the coffin floor. During the 
Late Period extracts from the book of nir. 
DEAD were sometimes also inscribed inside 
the coffin. 

In the 25th Dynasty a new : repertoire of cof¬ 
fin types, usually consisting of sets of two or 
three (including an inner case with pedestal, 
an intermediate anthropoid case and a ‘four- 
poster’ or anthropoid outer coffin), w'as intro¬ 
duced, becoming established practice by the 
26th Dynasty. Late Period coffins were also 
characterized by archaism, involving the re- 

Painted wooden coffin and mummy of an unnamed 
Theban priestess. 21st Dynasty , c. 1000 bc, 

//. 1.83 m. (f.a48791-2) 




introduction of earlier styles of coffin decora¬ 
tion, such as the provision of the eye panel. 

There are comparatively few excavated 
burials dating from c. 525 to 350 bc, but more 
coffins have survived from the succeeding 
phase (30th Dynasty and early Ptolemaic peri¬ 
od), when they typically have disproportion¬ 
ately large heads and wigs. During the early 
Ptolemaic period many mummies were pro¬ 
vided with cartonnage masks and plaques, 
fixed on to the body by strips of linen. 

A. Niwinski, ‘Zur Datierung und Herkunft der 
altagyptischen Siirge’, Bibliotheca Orientalia 42 
(1985), 494-508. 

H. Willems, Chests of life: a study of the typology 
and conceptual development of Middle Kingdom 
standard class coffins (Leiden, 1988). 

A. Niwinski, 21st Dynasty coffins from Thebes 
(Mainz, 1988). 

J. H. Taylor, Egyptian coffins (Aylesbury, 1989). 
N. A., ‘Coffins in human shape: a 
history of anthropoid sarcophagi’, BAR 16/4 
(1990), 52-4. 

G. Lapp, Typo logic der Surge und Sargkammern 
(Heidelberg, 1993). 

Coffin Texts 

Term referring to a group of over a thousand 
spells, selections from which were inscribed 
on coffins during the Middle Kingdom, par¬ 
ticularly the 11th and 12th Dynasties 
(2055-1795 bc). Many of the Coffin Texts 
were derived from the pyramid texts, a 
sequence of often-obscure spells carved on the 
internal w 7 alls of the Old Kingdom pyramids. 

During the Old Kingdom the afterlife had 
been the prerogative of the king, who in death 
was identified with osiris and transformed 
into a god. For this reason Old Kingdom 
courtiers sought burial close to the king, hop¬ 
ing for inclusion in his funerary cult so that 
they too might be granted some form of after¬ 
life, although the best that they could hope for 
was a continuation of their earthly status. 
However, with the collapse of the Old 
Kingdom came greater self-reliance and with 
it a process which is sometimes described by 
Egyptologists as the democratization or the 
afterlife. 'Phis meant that everyone could 
have access to the afterlife, without being asso¬ 
ciated directly with the royal cult. These new 
aspirations of the deceased are set out in a col¬ 
lection of spells painted in cursive hieroglyphs 
inside the wooden coffin. 

The Coffin Texts were intended to provide 
a guarantee of survival in the afterworld and 
some of them are the ancestors of spells found 
m the New Kingdom book of the dead. They 
have titles such as the self-explanatory ‘Not to 
r °t and not to do work in the kingdom of the 

dead’, and ‘Spell for not dying a second 
death’, which was designed to prevent the 
deceased from being judged unfit to enter the 
kingdom of Osiris and so condemned to 

Both the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin 
Texts present more than one version of the 
destination of the deceased: they might travel 
the sky with the sun-god ra or, alternatively, 
might pass down into the underworld of 
Osiris. This latter view became increasingly 
common from the time of the Coffin Texts 
onwards, setting the scene for the funerary 
beliefs of the New Kingdom. 

R. O. Faulkner, The Egyptian Coffin Texts, 

3 vols (Warminster, 1973-8). 

A. J. Spencer, Death in ancient Egypt 
(Ilarmondsworth, 1982), 141-2. 

H. Willems, Chests of life: a study of the typology 
and conceptual development of Middle Kingdom 
standard class coffins (Leiden, 1988), 244-9. 

The internal decoration of the coffin of Qua, 
inscribed with extracts from the Coffin Texts. 12th 
Dynasty, c. 1985-1795 bc, painted mood, from 
Dcir el-Bersha, /.. of coffin 2.6 m. (f.a30840) 

Colossi of Memnon 

Two colossal seated statues of ameni iotkp hi 
(1390-1352 bc), carved from quartzite sand¬ 
stone, which are located at the eastern end of 
the site of his much-plundered mortuary tem¬ 
ple in western Thebes; each of the figures is 
flanked by a representation of tty. 

In 27 bc an earthquake damaged the north¬ 
ern statue, and perhaps created some flaw in 
the stone, causing it to produce a characteris¬ 
tic whistling sound each morning. This has 
been variously ascribed to the effect of the 
breeze or the expansion of the stone, although 
the precise reason remains uncertain. Ancient 
Greek visitors knew the statue as the ‘vocal 
Memnon’, suggesting that the figure was the 
Homeric character Memnon, singing to his 
mother Eos, the goddess of the dawn. The 
Greek writer strabo at first speculated, some- 




The Colossi of Memnon on the west bank at Thebes 
are representations in quartzite sandstone of 
Amenhotep lit. The northern statue (right) is that 
known to ancient Greek visitors as the ‘vocal 
Memnon ’. ( p. r nicholson) 

what sceptically, that the sound might have 
been created by Egyptians standing nearby, 
although he claims to have been eventually 
convinced of its supernatural origins. In the 
third century the Roman emperor Septimius 
Severus (ad 193-211) repaired the damaged 
colossus, and in doing so seems to have ren¬ 
dered it dumb. 

As a result of the identification of the colos¬ 
si with Memnon, the area of western Thebes 
itself became known as Memnonia, and the 
RAMESSEUM as the Memnonium. The term 
Memnonium was even applied to the Osireion 
at abydos. These names were still fashionable 
in the early nineteenth century, when 
Giovanni bkezoni applied the phrase ‘young 
Memnon 1 to a colossal head of Rameses II 
which he transported from the Ramesseum to 
the British Museum. 

A. H. Gardiner, ‘The Egyptian Memnon 1 , 7£.4 
47 (1961), 91-9. 

H. Bowman et al., ‘The northern colossus of 

Memnon: new slants 1 , Archaeometry 26/2 
(1984), 218-29. 

D. Klemm, R. and L. Stkclaci, ‘Die 
pharaonischen Steinbriichc des silifizierten 
Sandsteins und die Herkunft der Memnon- 
Kolossc 1 , MDAIK 40 (1984), 207-20. 

A. R and B. Bryan, Egypt's dazzling 
sun: Amenhotep /// and his world (Bloomington, 
1992), 138-9. 


Like much of Egyptian religious architecture, 
the shapes of stone columns drew inspiration 
from Egyptian native flora and from 
Predvnastic religious structures made of 
reeds, branches and logs. The shaft and capital 
were carved in the form of four basic floral 
types: papyrus, lotus, palm and ‘composite 1 . 
In the Greco-Roman period, the composite 
capital provided an opportunity for many 
more elaborate variations and combinations. 
The shafts of columns were also frequently 
decorated with scenes and inscriptions in 
painted relief. 

Wooden columns were used in Egyptian 
houses and occasionally also in religious build¬ 
ings, such as Old Kingdom mortuary chapels, 
as decorative supports for the roofs and upper 

storeys. But the stone pillars and columns in 
Egyptian religious and funerary buildings 
served symbolic as well as functional pur¬ 
poses, forming an essential part of the cosmo¬ 
logical nature of Egyptian temples. 

The earliest stone columns were engaged 
papyrus, ribbed and fluted columns in the 
entrance and jubilee court of the Step 
Pyramid complex at saqqara. By the 4th 
Dynasty (2613-2494 bc), freestanding 
columns of many different stones were being 
used in the mortuary and valley temples of 
pyramid complexes. In the relief decoration of 
the causeway of unas (2375-2345 bc), granite 
palm columns (some examples of which have 
survived in Unas 1 valley temple) are depicted 
in the process of being transported by boat 
from the Aswan quarries to Saqqara. 

Fluted ‘proto-Doric’ columns w'ere first 
carved in the entrance to the 12th-Dynasty 
tombs of Khnumhotep (bh3) and Amenemhat 
(bh2) at bent HASAN, and this unusual form w as 
used again in the north colonnade ol 
Hatshepsut’s chapel of Anubis at deir ei - 
BAIIRI, where die columns arc made to appear 
more elegant by tapering them towards the top. 

On the most universal level, papyrus 
columns represented the reeds growing on the 




primeval mound at the beginning of time, 
although on a more practical level the forests 
of columns that make up iiypostyle halls 
were probably also considered essential to 
avoid the collapse of the roof, especially in the 
sandstone temples constructed during the 
New Kingdom. There were two types of 
papyrus column: the closed form, in which the 
capital was a papyrus bud, and the ‘campani- 
form’ type, in which the flower was shown in 
full bloom at the top of the column. The lotus 
column (a relatively rare form except at abusir 
and beni HASAN) was also sometimes repre¬ 
sented with the capital in flower. Since the 
papyrus and lotus were the plants associated 
with Upper and Lower Egypt respectively, 
they could be used as elements of the architec¬ 
tural symbolism surrounding the union of the 
‘two lands 1 . An unusual type is the ‘tent-pole 1 
column found in the Festival Hall of 
Thutmose m at karnak. 

There were also a number of columns pro- 

Redgranite palm column 
from the valley temple of 
Unas at Saqqara. Late 
5th Dynasty , c .2345 bc , 
h. 3.58 m. (ea!385) 

vided with capitals that had iconographic 
associations with the particular religious con- 
text in which they stood. Thus, hathor- 
headed (or sistrum) columns were erected in 
re hgious buildings associated with the goddess 
Hathor, such as the temple of Hatshepsut at 

Deir el-Bahri and the temple of Hathor at 
dendera. Finally, the djed pillar, with four 
horizontal bars across its capital, is an icono¬ 
graphic motif rather than a physical architec¬ 
tural element, although the meaning of the 
word djed (‘stability, duration 1 ) was closely 
linked with the concept of support, and in 
some instances columns were decorated with 
djed signs, presumably in order to give them 
greater strength. 

S. Clarke and R. Engelbach, Ancient Egyptian 
masonry: the building craft (London, 1930), 

M. Isler, ‘The technique of monolithic carving 1 , 
MDAIK 48(1992), 45-55. 

D. Arnold, Building in Egypt: pharaonic stone 
masonry (New York and Oxford, 1991), 46-7. 

concubine of the dead see sexuality 

copper and bronze 

The first metal to be exploited in Egypt, as 
elsewhere in the ancient world, was copper, 
the earliest surviving examples of which are 
small artefacts such as beads and borers of the 
Badarian period (c.5500-4000 BC). By the late 
PREDYNASTIC period, however, large items, 
such as axe- and adze-heads, were being pro¬ 
duced, and the knowledge of copper-smelting 
and working was already highly developed. It 
has been suggested that the important late 
Predynastic settlement of maadi, in Lower 
Egypt, may have prospered on the basis of its 
role as intermediary between the sources of 
copper in Sinai and the Levant and the Upper 
Egyptian ‘proto-states 1 whose growth and 
competition produced a demand for metal 
tools and weapons. 

Copper was mined at various localities in 
the Eastern Desert, Nubia and the Sinai 
peninsula (such as Wadi Maghara) from at 
least the early Old Kingdom. The excavation 
of the Early Dynastic phase of the Egyptian 
fortress at buiien, near the third Nile cataract, 
revealed traces of copper-smelting, indicating 
that mining was one of the earliest reasons for 
the Egyptian presence in Nubia. 

The technology of copper-smelting in the 
Old and Middle Kingdoms (2686-1650 bc) 
involved the use of crucibles and reed blow¬ 
pipes. The PALERMO STONE states that copper 
statues were already being created in the 2nd 
Dynasty (2890-2686 bc), and the most spec¬ 
tacular surviving examples of copper-working 
from the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc) are the 
life-size statue of the 6th-Dynasty pharaoh 
pepy i and another smaller figure possibly rep¬ 
resenting his son Merenra, both in the Cairo 
Museum. These were probably produced by 
hammering the metal over a wooden core. 

The production of bronze, an alloy com¬ 
bining copper and tin, appears to have 
spread from Western Asia. Among the first 
known bronze artefacts in Egypt are a pair of 
ritual vessels from the tomb of the 2nd- 
Dynasty ruler khasekhemwy at abydos. It 
was not until the Middle Kingdom that 
bronze began to be imported regularly from 
Syria, gradually replacing the use of copper 
hardened with arsenic. However, the per¬ 
centage of tin varied considerably, from 
about 2 to 16 per cent. Tin lowers the melt¬ 
ing point of copper, thus increasing its liq¬ 
uidity for casting. Additions of up to 4 per 
cent make the artefact stronger and harder, 
but higher levels of tin impair these qualities, 
unless the artefact is frequently annealed (re¬ 
heated and allowed to cool). 

In the New Kingdom a form of bellows, 
consisting of a leather-covered clay vessel with 
a protruding tube, was introduced, making the 
smelting of copper and bronze easier. From 
the Saite period (664-525 bc) omvards, large 
numbers of votive statuettes of deities were 
cast in bronze using the lost-wax (cire perdue) 
process, which had been known since at least 
the Old Kingdom. Larger objects could be 
cast around a core, rather than being made 
from solid bronze, thus saving valuable metal. 
A. Lucas, Ancient Egyptian materials and 
industries , 4th ed., rev. J. R. Harris (London, 
1962), 199-223. 

A. Radwan, Die Kupfer- und Bronzegefasse 
Agyptens: von den Anfdngen bis zum Beginn der 
Spdlzeil (Munich, 1983). 

M. Cowell, ‘The composition of Egyptian 
copper-based metalwork 1 , Science in Egyptology, 
ed. A. R. David (Manchester, 1986), 463-8. 

M. A. Leahy, ‘Egypt as a bronzeworking centre 
(1000—539 bc) 1 , Bronze-working centres of Western 
Asia , ed. J. Curtis (London, 1988), 297-310. 

Coptic period 

Chronological phase in Egypt lasting from the 
end of the Roman period (c. ad 395) until the 
Islamic conquest (c. ad 641). It is now more 
accurately described as the ‘Christian 1 period 
and is roughly equivalent to the Byzantine 
period elsewhere in the Near East. The 
archaeological and historical definition of 
‘Coptic 1 is extremely imprecise, since the term 
is often applied not only to the art and archi¬ 
tecture of the Christian period but also to the 
culture of the third and fourth centuries ad 
(‘proto-Coptic’) and the early medieval period 
(c. ad 700-1200). 

The Coptic language and writing system 
(combining Greek letters w r ith six further 
signs taken from the demotic script) were 
widely used throughout the Christian period 




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Ostracon bearing eighteen lines of psalms written in 
the Coptic script. Early Islamic period, 7th-8th 
centuries ad, pottery with pigment, probably from 
Thebes, it. 13.2 cm. (ea14030) 

in Egypt and are still employed in modern 
times in the liturgies and Biblical texts of the 
Coptic church. The earliest surviving Coptic- 
religious establishments include the monaster¬ 
ies of St Anthony, St Catherine and St Samuel. 
R. Fedden, ‘A study of the Monastery of Saint 
Anthony’, University of Egypt Faculty of Arts 
Bulletin 5 (1937), 1—61. 

C. C. Walters, Monastic archaeology in Egypt 
(Warminster, 1974). 

J. Kamil, Coptic Egypt (Cairo, 1987). 

G. Gabra and A. Alcock, Cairo, the Coptic 
Museum and old churches (Cairo, 1993). 


Modern term applied to the periods during 
which two rulers were simultaneously in 
power, usually consisting of an overlap of 
several years between the end of one sole 
reign and the beginning of the next. This 
system was used, from at least as early as the 
Middle Kingdom, in order to ensure that the 
transfer of power took place with the mini¬ 
mum of disruption and instability. It would 
also have enabled the chosen successor to 
gain experience in the administration before 
his predecessor died. The discovery that 
coregencies existed was an important stage in 
the clarification of the traditional chronolo¬ 
gy of Egypt. 

W. K. Simpson, ‘The single-dated monuments of 
Sesostris i: an aspect of the institution of 
coregency in the Twelfth Dynasty’, JAKES’ 15 
(1956), 214-19. 

R. Tanner, ‘Bemerkungen zur Sukzession der 
Pharaonen in der 12., 17. und 18. Dynastic’, 

ZAS 101 (1974), 121-9. 

W.J. Murnane, Ancient Egyptian coregencies 
(Chicago, 1977). 

D. Lorton, ‘Terms of coregency in the Middle 
Kingdom’, VA 2 (1986), 113-20. 

corn mummy 

Term generally employed to describe a type of 
anthropomorphic funerary object made of 
soil mixed with grains of corn, which was 
usually wrapped up in linen bandages and 
furnished with a wax face-mask. Most exam¬ 
ples measure between 35 and 50 cm in length 
and were usually placed in small wooden fal¬ 
con-headed sarcophagi. They are mummi- 
form in shape, and some were provided with a 
royal sceptre, an erect phallus, an atef crown 
or a white crown; it is therefore usually 
assumed that they were intended to refer to 
the god Osiris. 

Although a few miniature corn mummies 
have been found encased in Ptah-Sokar-Osiris 
statues in Late Period burials, most of the fifty 
or so surviving full-size com mummies derive 
from simple pits (rather than tombs) and date 
to the Ptolemaic or Roman periods. Maarten 
Raven has pointed out that all those with 
archaeological provenances appear to derive 
from only four sites: Wadi Qubbanet el-Qirud 
(in Thebes), Tihna el-Gcbcl, el-Shcikh Fadl 
and the region of Tuna el-Gebel. 

The origins of the corn mummy (as well as 
the OSIRIS BED, an item of New Kingdom royal 
funerary equipment that probably functioned 
in a similar way to the corn mummy) can be 
traced back at least as far as the Middle 
Kingdom, since it is at this period that links 
began to be established between the cult of 
Osiris, fertility and the growth of corn. The 
Coffin texts, for instance, include certain 
spells equating the resurrection of the 
deceased with the sprouting of barley from the 
body of Osiris (equated with the corn-god 

Since the corn mummies were not placed in 
the tombs of individuals, they clearly had a 
slightly different function from ‘Osiris beds’ 
and other such funerary equipment, which 
were intended simply to aid the resurrection 
of one deceased individual. Instead, the corn 
mummies appear to have been connected with 
the mysteries of the cult of Osiris itself. An 
inscription in a roof chapel at de.ndera 
describes rituals relating to Osiris, including 
the annual ceremonial burial of a corn 

M. J. Raven, ‘Corn-mummies’, CAIRO 63 
(1982), 7-38. 


From the earliest times Egyptian men and 
women included various cosmetic items 
among their funerary equipment, suggesting 
that oils, perfumes and eye-paints were 
regarded as virtual necessities. In the early 
Predynastic period, stone cosmetic palettes 
used for grinding eye-paint pigments, were 
already common. The surfaces of some of 
these are still stained with traces of black gal¬ 
ena or green malachite. The green malachite- 
based form of paint (udju) seems to have been 
used only until the middle of the Old 
Kingdom, when it was replaced by the black 
galena-based form of kohl ( mesdemet). These 
ground pigments appear to have been mixed 
with water to form a paste and were probably 
applied with the fingers until the introduction 
of the ‘kohl pencil’ in the Middle Kingdom. 

The types of vessels in which kohl was 
stored varied from one period to another; in 
the Middle Kingdom and the 18th Dynasty a 
small flat-bottomed stone vessel was used 
whereas in the late New Kingdom a tubular 
form of vessel (originally a reed) became more 
common. The purpose of eye-paint was no 
doubt partly the same as in modern times (i.e. 
the enhancement and apparent enlargement of 
eyes), but it probably also had religious and 
symbolic resonances, as well as being a natur¬ 
al disinfectant and a means of protecting the 
eyes from bright sunlight. The Egyptians used 
ochre as a form of‘rouge’ on their cheeks (and 
perhaps also as lipstick) and employed henna 
to colour their hair. There are many survi\ ing 
depictions of women applying cosmetics using 
a mirror, which was itself regarded as an 
important item of funerary equipment. 

Throughout Egyptian history, oils and fats 
were considered essential both for the prepa¬ 
ration of perfumes and INCENSE cones and for 
the protection of the skin. Tattoos were also 
used as early as the Predynastic period to dec¬ 
orate the skin, judging from the presence of 
patterns on some female figurines and the 
preservation of geometric designs on the 
mummies of certain dancers, musicians and 
concubines (as well as in depictions of some 
women in tomb-paintings); one mummj of a 
singer had a small tattoo of Bcs preserved on 
the thigh. See also hair for discussion of hair¬ 
styles and hairdressing. 

A. L. Lucas, ‘Cosmetics, perfumes and incense 
in ancient Egypt’, fEA 16 (1930), 41-53. 

F. Jonckiieere, ‘La “mesdemet”: cosmetique et 
medicaments egyptiens’, la Medccine 
2/7(1952), 1-12. 

J. Vandier and D. Abbadie, Catalogue des nbjets de 
toilette egyptiens (Paris, 1972). 

M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, 1986), 49-54. 




jr Strouhal, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 84-9. 

cosmogony see creation; ennead and 



Animal which served as the archetypal 
Egyptian symbol of motherly and domestic 
qualities. The two goddesses hathor and isis 
were often depicted with the horns of the cow; 
but only Hathor and bat were depicted with 
cowl’s ears. The image of the cow 7 could also 
symbolize the mother of the Egyptian king; 
the bovine image of Hathor was therefore 
depicted suckling King Amenhotep n 
(1427-1400 bc) at deir ei-bahri. An associa¬ 
tion with the sky and the underworld was 
characteristic of the bovine deities, so that NUT 
could be depicted as a cow 7 who bore the sun- 
god ra on her back each morning. Since the 
sacred apis bull represented osiris, it was nat¬ 
ural that the cow which gave birth to him 
should be identified with Isis. Thus, from at 
least the thirty-seventh regnal year of Ahmose 
u (570-526 bc) onwards, the so-called 
Mothers of Apis were mummified and had 
their own catacombs in the sacred animal 
necropolis at Saqqara. 

On a more prosaic level the cow w r as also 
an important domestic animal, providing 
milk, meat and hides. The first domestic cat¬ 
tle in Egypt, introduced during the 
Predynastic period, w r ere probably long¬ 
horned, but a short-horned species appeared 
in the Old Kingdom, and humped Zebu cat¬ 
tle were used from the 18th Dynasty 
onwards. Wall reliefs depicting scenes of 
‘cattle counting’, for the purpose of tax¬ 
ation, are common in tombs from the Old 
Kingdom (2686-2181 bc.) onwards, and 
numerous funerary models of the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) depict the same 
activity. Cattle were regarded as status sym¬ 
bols and, as in many other societies, the pos¬ 
session of a large herd was an indication of 
considerable wealth. The funerary reliefs 
also indicate that techniques of animal 
husbandry w'ere well developed, much atten¬ 
tion being paid to the depiction of the 
branding of stock and human assistance in 
the birth of calves. Beef was evidently the 
food of the wealthy elite, and w as often por¬ 
trayed in religious and funerary offering 

E- Hornung, Der dgyplische Mythos von der 
Hitnmelskuh (Freiburg and Gottingen, 1982). 

K Stork, ‘Rind’, Lexikon der Agyptologie v, ed. 

W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1984), 257-63. 

R. Janssen and J. J. Janssen, Egyptian domestic 
animals (Aylesbury, 1989), 27-35. 

D. J. Brewer, D. B. Redford and S. Redford, 
Domestic plants and animals: the Egyptian origins 
(Warminster, 1994), 77-93. 


Name given to a cow 7 rie-shell-shaped amulet, 
frequently inscribed and serving a purpose 
similar to that of a scarab. The cowrie shell 
amulet is known as early as Predynastic times. 
Its shape was believed to mimic the female 
genitalia and girdles made from it were used to 
symbolically protect this area of the body. 
From the 6th Dynasty (2345-2181 bc) actual 
shells were imitated in faience and later in cor¬ 
nelian and quartz. 


During the Pharaonic period, a great deal of 
Egyptian thought regarding creation was sim¬ 
ply embedded in their iconography, language 
and ritual. It was only in the Ptolemaic and 
Roman periods that the process of cosmogony 
began to be regularly described in explicit nar¬ 
rative accounts. There arc, however, three 
principal surviving Egyptian creation myths, 
each rooted in the cults of deities associated 
wfith particular localities. At hermopolis 

Necklace consisting of comroids and beads in the 
form of false beards or sidelocks of youth. 12th 
Dynasty and Nem Kingdom , l 46.3 cm. (ea3077) 

magna the myth centred on four pairs of 
primeval deities (the ogdoad); at iieliopolis 
there was a myth involving four generations of 
deities (the ennead); and at Memphis the 
account centred on the attributes of the god 

The myth of the Ogdoad dealt primarily 
with the first mystery of creation: how did 
‘being’ appear out of ‘non-being’? According 
to the Hermopolitan account, the earliest text 
of which dates to the Middle Kingdom, the 
sun-god emerged from a group of four pairs of 
male and female deities whose names simply 
describe aspects of the primordial chaos pre¬ 
ceding creation: darkness, formlessness, eter¬ 
nity and hiddenness (or, in the earliest version, 
twilight). The myth of the Ennead, on the 
other hand, was concerned with the next stage 
in the process of cosmogony: the question of 
division and multiplication. How did the cre¬ 
ator transform the one into the many? The ref¬ 
erences to the Ennead in the pyramid TEXTS 
show 7 that, at least as early as the Old 
Kingdom, the progressive fission and prolifer¬ 
ation of life w ? cre both seen in terms of divine 




procreation, resulting in a succession of sym¬ 
metrical pairs. 

In the beginning, according to the myth of 
the Ennead, there was a mysterious act of cre¬ 
ativity or fertility by the creator - the sun-god 
atum, for instance, was considered to have 
created himself with the aid of such forces as 
Heka (the Egyptian term for magic), Sia (a 
personification of ‘perception’) and Hu (‘the 
divine word’). Having engendered himself, 
Atum (whose name meant ‘completeness’) 
then undertook the first act of division or sep¬ 
aration, which he achieved through a combi¬ 
nation of ‘masturbating’, spitting and sneez¬ 
ing, thus producing new life and splitting it 
into two opposites: air (the god Shu) and 
moisture (the goddess Tefnut). Shu and 
Tefnut then procreated to produce nut and 
geb, the heaven and the earth, and a common 
vignette in the BOOK of the dead shows Shu 

The 'Shabaqo Stonea basalt slab bearing a text 
purporting to be a copy of an ancient composition 
describing the creation of the universe by the god 
Ptah. 25lh Dynasty , c.7J0 bc, l 1.37 m. (u. i4 ( )8) 

literally separating the personification of the 
sky from that of the earth. 

The myth of the Ennead not only deals with 
the question of creation but also leads on to 
the emergence of human society in the form of 
the myths surrounding the sons and daughters 
of Geb and Nut: OSIRIS and seth and their 
consorts isis and nepiithys. These legends, 
relating principally to Osiris, went beyond 
cosmogony to deal with such issues as king¬ 
ship and human suffering. 

The so-called Memphite Theology pre¬ 
sents an alternative, but nevertheless compati¬ 
ble, view of creation by means of the spoken 
word. The text was probably composed in the 
late New Kingdom and survives in the form of 
the 25th-Dvnastv ‘Shabaqo Stone’, a basalt 
slab now in the British Museum bearing a 
hieroglyphic inscription in which the 
Memphite god Ptah creates all things by pro¬ 
nouncing their names. 

Each local deity - from sober to bastet 

was, to all intents and purposes, also a creator- 
god, but their specific characteristics often led 
to variations on the general theme of creativi¬ 
ty. The ram-god kj-inum, who was connected 
with the fertile Nile silt and the pottery vessels 
that were formed from it, was considered to 
have modelled the first humans on a potter’s 
wheel. The fertility god min, on the other 
hand, was portrayed as an icon of male fertili¬ 
ty whose erect phallus, combined with an 
upraised hand thrusting into the Y-shape 
formed bv the flail over his shoulder (in appar¬ 
ent simulation of intercourse), served as an 
unmistakable metaphor for the sexual act 
itself. In the late New Kingdom the theme of 
the mound rising out of the waters of Nun was 
transformed into the myth of the child-like 
god nefertem, who was thought to have 
emerged from a lotus floating on the face of 
the deep. The Book of the Dead describes the 
sun-god as a ‘golden youth who emerged from 
the lotus’. It was in order to identify himself 
with Nefertem and the act of creation and 
rebirth that tutankhamun (1336-1327 bc) 
included among his funerary equipment a 
painted wooden representation of his own 
youthful head emerging from a lotus. 

The Egyptian concepts of creation were 
closely interlinked with their views concerning 
rebirth, renewal and life after death, and their 
religious and funerary imagery is full of 
metaphors for the first act of creation, from 
the primeval MOUND and the benben stone to 
the SCARAB beetle emerging from a dunghill. 
The texts make it clear that they regarded cre¬ 
ation not only as a single event at the begin¬ 
ning of the universe but as a phenomenon 
which constantly recurred with each new day 
or season and which was intimately connected 
with the prolonging of life beyond death. The 
deity most regularly associated with creation 
was therefore the sun-god, whose appearance 
at dawn, voyage through the sky during the 
day and disappearance at the sunset served to 
epitomize the cyclical nature of the creator. 

J. R. Allen, Genesis in Egypt: the philosophy of 
ancient Egyptian creation accounts (New Haven, 

B. Menu, ‘Lcs cosmogonies de l’aneienne Egypte’, 
La creation dans /’Orient ancien (Paris, 1987). 

G. Hart, Egyptian myths (London, 1990), 9-28. 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 39-54. 

crime see law; medjay and police 

Crocodilopolis see medinet el-fayum 

crook and flail see crowns and royal 


crowns and royal regalia 

The king can be depicted wearing a number of 
different head coverings, each corresponding 
to particular ceremonial situations. The earli¬ 
est of these to be depicted is a form of tall con¬ 
ical headpiece ending in a bulb. This is the 
crown of Upper Egypt or white crown (hedjel), 
which is seen as early as the time of the scor¬ 
pion macehead and the narmer palette (c.30(10 
bc:). It is sometimes referred to as the niter or 
‘White Nefer’. The Narmer palette also shows 
the crown of Lower Egypt, or red crown 
( deshret ), which comprises a tall ‘chair-shaped’ 
arrangement from which protrudes a coil. 
With unification these two crowns were com¬ 
bined to become the ‘Two Mighty Ones’, the 
double crown ( pschent ). 

The king might also wear the nemes head- 
cloth. This was a piece of striped cloth pulled 
tight across the forehead and tied into a kind 
of tail at the back while at each side of the face 
two strands or lappets hung down. The brow 
was decorated with the uraeus (see wadjyt) 
and the vulture. This is the head-dress repre¬ 
sented in the famous gold mask of 
tutankhamun. A plain version of this was the 
khat. From the 18th Dynasty onwards kings 
also wore the ‘blue crown’ ( khepresh ), some¬ 
times erroneously described as the ‘war 

Wooden shabti of Tutankhamun wearing the red 
crown and holding the crook and flail. 18th Dynasty . 
c. 1330 bc, h. 52 cm. (curd, no. 330c; reprodi cm 





left Slatue of Thillume ill wearing the nemes 
headcloth, the uraeus and the ceremonial false 
heard'. 18th Dynasty, c.1450 BC, greywacke, ii. 

90.5 cm. (n \OR MUSEUM, j2, GR III I M HARRISON) 

cult singers and temple musicians 

From the Old Kingdom onwards, ‘musical 
troupes’ ( khener ) as well as dancers arc attest¬ 
ed as elements of the staff of temple cults. 
They comprised both men and women, the 
latter sometimes individually named, and 
clearly of greater importance than their 
anonymous male counterparts. Female musi¬ 
cians were employed in the cults of both male 
and female deities. 

Bv the beginning of the New Kingdom die 
priesthood had become exclusively male, but 
women of high rank, some of whom were mar¬ 
ried to the priests, were allowed to serve as 
musicians (shemayet). The role of these women 
was to play the sistrum, as accompaniment to 
die ritual chants or cult i iymms, and sometimes 
even to provide the chants themselves. 
Usually, however, the chants were performed 
by male singers or musicians, although these 
individuals never used the title ‘musician’ and 
were probably of a lower stat us than their elite 
female colleagues. 

G. Pinch, Votive offerings to Hathor (Oxford, 
1993), 212-13. 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 
1993), 145-9. 


Type of script, die name of which derives from 
the Latin word c line us (‘wedge’), referring to 
the wedge-shaped lines making up the picto- 
graphic characters used in the earliest writing. 
This developed in MESOPOTAMIA during the 
fourth millennium, and was initially used to 
record quantities, hence the characters were 
numerals accompanied by a picture of the 
thing being quantified. Over time, these pic¬ 
tures became stylized into a series of wedge 
shapes which could readily be impressed into 
tablets of wet clay using a cut reed or other 
stylus. The script could be used for picto- 
graphic, logographic and syllabic writing and 
over time came to incorporate all three. 

It was used to write down the SUMERIAN and 
AKKADIAN languages, but also a host of other 
western Asiatic tongues, and despite the devel¬ 
opment of hieroglyphic writing in Egypt 
around 3100 BC it was cuneiform which 
became the language of diplomatic correspon¬ 
dence throughout the Near East. The 
Egyptian court would have supported scribes 
fluent in the use of this system. The best- 
known examples of cuneiform script in Egypt 
are the amarna letters. The script is last 

end of the Amarna period’, SAK 5 (1977), 

A. Leahy, ‘Royal iconography and dynastic 
change,750-525 bc: the blue and cap crowns’, 
fEA 78 (1992), 223-40. 

BELOW The major types of crown. 

crown’, which is shaped like a kind of tall, 
flanged helmet and made of cloth adorned 
with golden discs. The ''atef crown’ is effec¬ 
tively a ‘white crown’ with a plume on either 
side and a small disc at the top, which was 
worn in certain religious rituals. 

The most prominent items in the royal 
regalia were the so-called ‘crook’ ( heka ), actu¬ 
ally a sceptre symbolizing ‘government’, and 
the ‘fiail’ or ‘flabellum’ ( nekhakha ), which may 
have derived originally from a fly whisk. 
Before it became part of royal regalia, the flail 
was associated primarily with the gods OSIRIS 
and min as well as with sacred animals. 

G. A. Wainwrigj it, ‘The red crown in early 
prehistoric times’, fEA 9 (1923), 25-33. 

Abdel Moneim Abubakr, Untersuchungen iiber 
die altagyptischeti Kronen (Gluckstadt, 1937). 

E- L. Ertman, ‘The cap crown of Nefertiti: its 
function and probable origin’, jAECE 13 (1976), 

M. Eaton-Krauss, ‘The khat headdress to the 

white crown red crown double crown 

of Upper Egypt of Lower Egypt of Upper and 

Lower Egpyt 


blue crown 




used in the first century ad: interestingly these 
latest texts use Sumerian logograms (word 
signs) even though the language had long since 
ceased to be in general use. 

The decipherment of cuneiform began with 
the recognition that a series of brief inscrip¬ 
tions at Persepolis (in Persia) were each writ¬ 
ten out in three forms of the script. By 1802 a 
German, G. F. Grotefend, had achieved some 
success with the simplest of these. Old 
Persian, discovering the names of two kings. 
This work was carried much further by Henry 
Rawlinson who, in 1835, deciphered a long 
inscription of Darius from Behistun in Iran. 
This site too had three versions of the text and 
Rawlinson copied all three. Of these the 
Elamite was deciphered by Edwin Norris in 
1855, and Rawlinson himself deciphered the 
Babylonian text in 1851. This was of great sig¬ 
nificance since it could be linked to already 
discovered Babylonian and Assyrian texts 
from Mesopotamia. 

C. Walker, Cuneiform (London, 1987). 

J. N. Postdate, Early Mesopotamia: society and 
economy at the dawn of history (London and New 
York, 1992), 51-70. 


Term meaning ‘dog-headed’, commonly used 
to refer to a species of baboon (Papio cyno- 
cephalus ), which was one of the principal 
manifestations of the gods THOTH and kiions. 
Typically portrayed in a squatting position, 
the earliest votive figurines of the cyno¬ 
cephalus baboon have been excavated in the 
Early Dynastic settlement at abydos, although 
among the most impressive surviving statues 
of Thoth arc a pair of 18th-Dynastv quartzite 
colossal figures still standing in situ at her- 
MOPOLIS MAGNA, the main cult-centre of 
Thoth. The enthusiasm with which wild 
baboons greeted the rising sun reinforced the 
association between the baboon form of Thoth 
and the sun- and moon-gods. The bases of a 
number of obelisks are carved with figures of 
baboons with their arms raised in characteris¬ 
tic worshipping posture, and a frieze of 
baboons along the front of the Great Temple 
at ABU STMBEL also have their arms raised in 
adoration of the rising sun. 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 72-3. 


Dab'a, Tell el- (anc. Avaris) 

Settlement site in the eastern Delta, covering 
an area of some two square kilometres on a 
natural mound partly surrounded by a large 
lake. The town of Avaris, which has been under 
excavation since 1966, consists of several stra¬ 
ta of occupation dating from the First 
Intermediate Period to the Second 
Intermediate Period (2181-1550 bc). There 
are also considerable remains of a later phase 
of settlement in the Ramesside period 
(c. 1295-1069 bc) when the city of Piramesse 
spread across Tellel-Dab‘a, although its nu¬ 
cleus was at qantir, further to the north. 

During the Second Intermediate Period the 
Hyksos capital of Avaris was effectively an 
Asiatic colony within Egypt, and Manfred 
Bietak’s excavations suggest that the colonists 
were allocated rectangular areas of land, the 
patterning and orientation of which were still 
occasionally influenced by the preceding 
Middle Kingdom town plan. Both houses and 
cemeteries were laid out w ithin the allocated 
areas, sometimes in close proximity. The deep 
stratigraphy at Tell el-Dab‘a allows the chang¬ 
ing settlement patterns of a large Bronze Age 
community to be observed over a period of 
many generations. 

In die early 1990s the main focus of excav a¬ 
tion at Tell el-Dab‘a was the substructure of a 
large palace building of the Hyksos period at 
Ezbet Helmi on the western edge of the site. In 
1991 many fragments of Minoan wall-paint- 
ings were discovered among debris covering 
the ancient gardens adjoining the palace. 
Several of these derive from compositions 
depicting ‘bull-leapers’, like those in the 
Middle Bronze Age palace at Knossos. 
W T hereas the Minoan and Mycenaean potterv 
vessels previously found at many New 
Kingdom sites in Egypt are usually interpret¬ 
ed as evidence of trade with the Aegean (see 
Greeks), die presence of Minoan wall-paint- 
ings at Tell el-Dab‘a suggests that the popu¬ 
lation of Avaris may actually have 
included Aegean families. It has been suggest¬ 
ed that the frequent use of a red painted back¬ 
ground may even mean that the Tell el-Dab‘a 
Minoan paintings predate those of Crete and 
Thera (Santorini). The existence of Minoan 
paintings (and therefore presumably Minoan 
artists) at a site within Egypt itself may help to 
explain the appearance in early 18th-Dynasty 
Egyptian tomb-paintings of such Aegean 
motifs as the ‘flying gallop’ (i.e. the depiction 
of animals’ fore- and hindlegs outstretched in 
full flight). Similar fragments of Minoan 
paintings have been found at two sites in the 
Levant (Kabri and Alalakh), where they also 

Plan of Tell el-DaPa and Qantir. 


1500 m 

2 19th-Dynasty temple of Setfi 

3 modern flooded area 

4 Ezbet Rushdi el-Saghira 

5 12th/13th-Dynasty palace 

6 12th-Dynasty temple 

7 19th-Dynasty palace 

8 possible area of palace lake 

9 New Kingdom settlement 

10 Tell Abu el-Filus and Ezbet 
Rusdi el-Kebira 

11 and 12 Ezbet Yasergi and 
Ezbet Silmy 

13 Qantir 

14 Ezbet Helmi 




appear to be associated with the ruling elite, as 
at Avaris. 

In one of the early 18th-Dynasty strata at 
Ezbet Helmi immediately above those con¬ 
taining the painting fragments Bietak also dis¬ 
covered many lumps of pumice-stone, which 
may derive from the volcanic explosion on the 
island of Thera. 

M. Bietak, Tell el-DaV'a n-vi (Vienna, 1975-91). 
,—, Avaris and Piramessc: archaeological 
exploration in the eastern Nile delta (London and 
Oxford, 1981). 

—, ‘Tell el-Dab‘a\ Archiv Jiir Orientforschung 32 
(1985), 130-5. 


Group of pyramid complexes making up the 
southern end of the Memphite necropolis, the 
nucleus of which is saqqara. The most promi¬ 
nent of the surviving monuments at Dahshur 
are the two pyramids of the first 4th-Dynasty 
pharaoh, sneferu (2613-2589 bc). The three 
other major pyramid complexes at Dahshur 
belong to rulers of the Middle Kingdom, 
namely amenemiiat ii (1922-1878 bc), senus- 
ret hi (1874-1855 bc) and Amenemhat hi 
(1855-1808 bc). The site also includes the 
remains of one of only three surviving 13 th- 
Dvnasty pyramid complexes, containing the 
sarcophagus and CANOPIC jars of Amenvqemau 
(formerly read as Amenyaamu). 

The two pyramids of Sneferu were possibly 
the first such tombs to be designed from the 
outset as true pyramids rather than step pyra¬ 
mids. The southernmost of the two is the 
‘bent’ or ‘rhomboidal’ pyramid, so-called 
because of its marked change of angle from 54° 
27' in the lower part to 43° 22' in the upper 
part. The reason for this was probably struc¬ 
tural, although the pyramid has other unusual 
features, notably a western entrance in addi¬ 
tion to the usual northern one. It was first 
investigated by the Egyptian archaeologist 
Ahmed Fakhrv in 1951-5. 

Sneferu’s other monument at Dahshur is 
the ‘northern’ or ‘red’ pyramid, built from the 
outset with an angle of 43° 22', which stands 
about two kilometres north of the earlier mon¬ 
ument. Its base area is second only to the 
Great Pyramid of his son Khufu at giza. 
Sneferu’s construction of two pyramids at 
Dahshur (as well as his completion of his 
father’s pyramid at meidum) would have 
necessitated an amount of materials and labour 
outstripping even the efforts involved in the 
construction of the Great Pyramid. 

Although each of the three 12th-Dvnastv 
Pyramids at Dahshur have stone casings, only 
tfte ‘white pyramid’ of Amenemhat it has a 
stone core, the others being of brick. 

Pla n of Da hshu r. 

Amenemhat ll’s pyramid is so ruinous that 
even its exact size is uncertain. The complex 
was excavated by Jacques dc Morgan, who dis¬ 
covered a plundered burial chamber contain¬ 
ing a sandstone sarcophagus that is believed to 
have been part of the original funerary equip¬ 
ment. Nearby are the burials of princesses of 
the late 12th or early 13th Dynasty. 

De Morgan also tunnelled into the pyramid 
of Senusret in, where he discovered the mag¬ 
nificent granite burial chamber containing a 
sarcophagus of the same material. This pyra¬ 
mid, the superstructure of which was badly 
damaged by Maspero’s work of 1882-3, was 
re-examined by Dieter Arnold in the 1980s, 
revealing that the burial-chamber was painted 
to resemble limestone, perhaps in order to 

allow the sarcophagus to stand out in contrast 
to its background. The king’s remains, how¬ 
ever, have not been found in this pyramid, 
which may have been simply a cenotaph. The 
nearby mastaba tombs contained the rich 
funerary equipment of the daughters of 
Senusret ill and Amenemhat u, including 
items of jewellery discovered by de Morgan in 

The ‘black pyramid’ of Amenemhat ill also 
seems to have served as a cenotaph (the actual 
tomb probably being the pyramid at iiawara), 
and work during the 1980s revealed a foun¬ 
dation deposit which included pottery, ritual 
bricks and bull crania. This complex also 
incorporated the burial of the 13th-Dynasty 
ruler Awibra Hor, including a fine KA-statue. 

J. de Morgan, Fouilles a Dahchour , 2 vols (Paris 
and Vienna, 1895-1903). 


dan ce 


Interior of the burial chamber ofAmencmhal ill at 
Dahshur, (reproduced courtesy or dm, Cairo) 

A. Faki iry , The monuments ofSneferu at 
Dahshur , 2 vols (Cairo, 1959-61). 

V. Maragioglio and C. A. Rinaldi, ‘Note sulla 
piramide diAmcny ‘Aamu’, Orient alia 37 (1968), 

R. Stadelmann, ‘Snofru und die Pyramiden von 
Meidum und Dahschur’, MDAIK 36 (1980), 

D. Arnold, Der Pyramidenbezirk des Kottigs 
Amencmhet til in Dahschur i (Mainz, 1987). 

Dakhla Oasis 

One of a chain of oases located in the Libyan 
Desert, 300 km west of the Egyptian city of 
Luxor. The main pharaonic sites in Dakhla 
include a town site of the Old Kingdom 
(2686-2181 bc) and its associated cemetery of 
6th-Dynasty mastaba tombs, near the modern 
village of Balat; another cemetery dating to the 


^ el-Qasr 





" 4 " . 

D Amhada > 


Old Kingdom cemetery 

1 kmant pl-Kharah ® n_ i _Doint. 

Qaret el- 

1 Mut ° .... 

..t Old Kingdom 

MuzawwaqaX. >.. 


i i 

^ Azbat Bashindi 

i i i i a 

0 10 

20 30 40 

50 60 70 80 90 km 

First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc), 
near modern Amhada; and a temple of the 
goddess Mut dating to the late Ramesside 
period (cl 130 bc), near Ezbet Bashindi. The 
Old Kingdom tow r n and cemetery at Balat 
show that the Egyptians’ control extended 
hundreds of miles into the Libyan Desert 
from a very early period. The surviving 
remains of the Greek and Roman periods (332 

bc— ' U) 395) include a necropolis and temple of 
Thoth at el-Qasr, a temple dedicated to the 
Theban triad at Deir el-Hagar, Roman tombs 
at Qaret el-Muzawwaqa and a Roman settle¬ 
ment and temple at Ismant el-Kharab. 

H. E. Wlnlock (ed.), Dakhleh Oasis (New York. 

L. L. Giddy and D. G. Jeffreys, ‘Balat: rapport 
preliminaire des fouilles a ‘AynAsil, 1979-80'. 
BIT 10 80 (1980), 257-69. 

L. L. Giddy, Egyptian oases: Bahariya, Dakhla. 
Tarafra and Kharga during pharaonic times 
(Warminster, 1987). 

C. Hope, ‘Excavations at Ismant el-Kharab in the 
Dakhleh Oasis’, Egyptian Archaeology 5 (1994), 


As early as the Predvnastic period there were 
depictions on pottery vessels showing female 
figures (perhaps goddesses or priestesses) 
dancing with their arms raised above their 
heads. The act of dancing was undoubtedly an 
important component of both ritual and cele¬ 
bration in ancient Egypt. In normal daily life 
musicians and dancers w ere a common feature 
of banquets, but certain ritual dances could 
also be crucial to the successful outcome of 

Quartzite relief block from the Red Chapel at 
Karnak, showing musicians and dancers. 18th 
Dynasty, c. 1460 bc. (t. stun) 

Plan of Dakhla Oasis. 




Fragment of a mall-painting from the Theban 
tomb ofNebam-un, showing female musicians and 
dancers at a banquet. 18th Dynasty, c.MOObc, 
h. 61 cm. (EA37984) 

religious and funerary ceremonies, as in the 
case of the ///////-dancers, who wore kilts and 
reed crowns and performed alongside funeral 

The act of dancing appears to have been 
inseparable from music, therefore the depic¬ 
tions of dancing in pharaonic tombs and tem¬ 
ples invariably show the dancers either 
accompanied by groups of musicians or them¬ 
selves playing castanets or clappers to keep 
the rhythm. Little distinction appears to have 
been made between dancing and what would 
now be described as acrobatics, with many 
dancers being depicted in such athletic poses 
as cartwheels, handstands and back-bends. 
Detailed study of the depictions of dancers 
has revealed that the artists were often depict¬ 
ing a series of different steps in particular 
dances, some of which can therefore be recon¬ 
structed. Men and women are never shown 
dancing together, and the most common 
scenes depict groups of female dancers, often 
performing in pairs. 

E. Brunner-Traut, Der Tanz im alien Agyplen 
(Gluckstadt, 1958). 

H. Wild, Les danse sacrecs de PEgvptc 
ancienne’, Les danses sacrees , Sources Orientales 
6 (Paris, 1963), 33-117. 

J- Vandier, Manueld'archeologie egyptienne iv 
(Paris, 1964), 391^+86. 

E. Strouial, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 41-3. 

Darius see Persia, Persians 
death see funerary reliefs 
decans see astronomy and astrology 


Ancient Egyptian gods were generally ‘born’ 
rather than made. As a result it is relatively 
unusual to find mortals elevated to the status 
of gods. The pharaoh himself was not deified, 
but was born as the living iiorus, becoming 
osiris at death. From the 18th Dynasty, how¬ 
ever, kings may have been seeking to diminish 
the power of certain priesthoods, notably that 
of amun, perhaps fearing that they would 
threaten the position of monarchy. Stress was 
therefore laid upon the cults of ra and PTAM 
instead, and in Nubia the reigning king w ? as 
linked with the official gods, aspects of the 
ruler’s kingship being worshipped in the tem¬ 
ples. A similar change took place in Egypt 
itself, where deified aspects of kingship were 
worshipped in the form of royal colossal stat¬ 
ues in temples. It is possible that, with his 
promulgation of the worship of the ATEN, 
the 18th-Dynasty pharaoh akhenaten may 
have taken this process a stage further by 
effectively declaring himself to be the god 

Rameses n (1279-1213 bc) identified him¬ 
self with a local form of Amun at his Theban 
mortuary temple, the ramesseum. It was his 
image which replaced that of the god in the 
portable bark. Likewise his bark probably 
rested in front of the statues of Ptah, Amun, 
Ra and Rameses n in the Great Temple at ABU 

SIMBEL, where he stressed his identity as a 
manifestation of the sun-god RA. There were 
also certain kings who received posthumous 
cults among the populace, as opposed to their 
official cults centred on the mortuary temple. 
'Eh us Amenhotep i (1525-1504 bc.) and his 
mother Ahmose Nefertari were worshipped by 
the royal tomb-workers at deir el-medina, in 
recognition of their supposed role in founding 
the village. 

Private individuals - notably those with a 
reputation for great wisdom - wore also, in a 
few rare cases, deified. The earliest of these 
was imiiotep, the vizier of the 3rd-Dvnastv 
ruler Djoser (2667—2648 bc) and the architect 
of the Step Pyramid at saqqara. He was dei¬ 
fied about two thousand years after his death, 
and revered as a god of wisdom and medicine 
W'hom the Greeks were quick to identify with 
their own Asklepios. His connection with 
learning also led to a cultic link with TIIOTH 
and hence an association with the cults of 
SACRED animals. A number of other Old 
Kingdom viziers were deified soon after their 
deaths, .amenhotep SON of hapu, the architect 
who built the Theban mortuary temple of 
amenhotep hi (1390-1352 bc:) at Kom el- 
Heitan, was similarly honoured as a god of 
healing. He was uniquely allowed to build his 
own mortuary temple among those of the New 
Kingdom pharaohs, as well as having statues 
of himself in the temple of Amun at Karnak 
and a personal shrine at deir el-bahri. 

The idea that the drow ned also became dei¬ 
fied was established by the New Kingdom, 
and features in the Book of Gates and Arndual , 
as portrayed in the tomb of Rameses vi (kv9). 




By the Late Period, cults began to be estab¬ 
lished for some of those who drowned in the 
Nile, as in the case of Pehor and Petiesis at 
Dendur in Nubia. In the early second century 
ad the city of Antinoopolis became the cult- 
centre for the Emperor Hadrian’s ‘favourite’, 
Anlinous, at the spot where he drowned in 
Middle Egypt. 

L. Habachi, Features of the deification of Harnesses 
li (Gliickstadt, 1969). 

D. WlLDUNG, Imhotep und Amenhotep: 
Gottwerdung ini alien Agypten (Berlin, 1977). 

—, Egyptian saints: deification in pharaonic Egypt 
(New York, 1977). 

Deir el-Bahri (Deir el-Bahari) 

Important Theban religious and funerary site 
on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Luxor, 
comprising temples and tombs dating from 
the early Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic 
period. The site consists of a deep bay in the 
cliffs containing the remains of the temples of 
Nebhepetra mentuhotep n (2055-2004 bc), 
hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc) and THUTMOSE hi 
(1479-1425 bc.), as well as private tombs con¬ 
temporary with each of these pharaohs. The 
temple of Hatshepsut is the best-preserved 
of the three, consisting of three colonnaded 
terraces imitating the architectural style of 
Mentuhotep’s much earlier funerary complex 
immediately to the south of it. As well as incor¬ 
porating chapels to Hathor, Anubis and Amun, 

the temple is decorated with reliefs depicting 
the divine birth of the queen and the exploits 
of her soldiers on a trading mission to the 
African land of punt. 

The most important private tombs excavat- 

above The temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri 
is built into a natural embaymenl in the cliffs which 
border the Valley of the Kings. It is belter 
preserved than the earlier temple of Mentuhotep II, 
the style of which it emulates, (p. r. mchoisox) 

left Fragment of relief from the cult-temple of 
Mentuhotep it at Deir el-Bahri, showing the king 
wearing the red crown. 1 Ilh Dynasty, c .2030 tic, 
painted limestone, it. 53.3 cm. (n il397) 

ed at Deir el-Bahri are those of Meketra 
(which contained many Middle Kingdom 
painted wooden funerary models) and senen- 
mut. An llth-Dvnasty shaft tomb at the 
southern end of Deir el-Bahri (discovered and 
robbed in 1871 and finally excavated by 
Gaston Maspero in 1881) contained a cache of 
some forty royal mummies from the valley 
OF THE KINGS reinterred there by 21st-Dynasty 
priests. The kings whose mummies were 
found in the ‘Deir el-Bahri cache’ were sKQr 
and i\, Pinudjem i and li and Siamun. Another 
‘cache’consisting of 153 reburied mummies of 
the 21st-Dvnasty priests themselves was also 
found in a tomb at Deir el-Bahri in 1891. 

E. Naville, The temple of Deir el-Bahari, 7 vols 
(London, 1894-1908). 

H. E. WiNLOCK, Excavations at Deir el-Bahari, 

1911-31 (New York, 1942). 


DIO R el-bahri 


1 temple of Nebhepetra 
Mentuhotep II 

2 shrine 

3 entrance to royal tomb 
of Mentuhotep II 

4 peristyle court 

5 mastaba-style building 

6 ramp .... 

7 Babel-Husan: 
entrance to royal 

8 causeway of 
Mentuhotep II 

9 causeway of 
Thutmose III 

10 kiosk of Thutmose III 

11 shrine of Hathor 

12 upper colonnade 

13 middle colonnade 

14 lower colonnade 

15 shrine of Anubis 

16 north colonnade 

17 causeway of 

left Plan ofDeir el-Bahri. 

—, The slain soldiers oJ'Nebhepetre Mentuhotep 
(New York, 1945). 

J, Lipinska, Deir el-Bahari ti: The temple of 
Tuthmosis m (Warsaw, 1974). 

D. Arnold, The temple of Mentuhotep ut Deir el- 
Bahari (New York, 1979). 

Deir el-Balias 

Settlement site on the west bank of the Nile 
some 45 km north of thebes, excavated by 
George Reisner at the turn of the century and 
subsequently surveyed and re-examined by an 
expedition from Boston concentrating on the 
residential areas. Balias was probably original¬ 
ly a staging post in the reconquest of northern 
Egypt by ramose (c. 1555-1550 bc) and 
ahmose i (1550-1525 bc). Peter Lacovara 
interprets the early New Kingdom phase of 
Balias as a prototype of the ‘royal city’, fore¬ 
shadowing such later settlements as gurob, 

A major contribution of Lacovara’s survey 
of Balias is the discussion of the functions of 
various structures originally excavated by 
Reisner. Two large ceremonial buildings, the 
so-called North and South Palaces, lie at either 
end of a long bay of desert. The South Palace 
was in fact probably a fortress, while the North 
Palace may have been a roval residence during 
the wars against the 11YKSOS. The area between 
these two ‘palaces’ is occupied by the city 
itself, a large part of which was excavated by 
Reisner. Lacovara suggests that a group of 
New Kingdom houses to the west of the 

below Plan of Deir el-Ballas. 




North Palace were occupied by palace officials, 
while a large building interpreted bv Reisner 
as a typical el-Amarna-style ‘villa’ is now 
thought to have been a set of palace kitchens. 
W. Stevenson Smiti i, The art aml architecture of 
ancient Egypt (Ilarmondsvvorth, 1958, rev. 1981), 

P. Lacovara, Survey at Deir el-Ballas (Malibu, 

Deir el-Bersha 

Funerary site on the east bank of the Nile, 40 
km south of modern el-Minya. The major 
components of the site are a row of tombs in 
the cliffs at the mouth of the Wadi el-Nakhla, 
mostly belonging to the Middle Kingdom 
governors of the fifteenth Upper Egyptian 
nome. The 12th-Dvnasty tomb chapel of 
Thuthotep contains particularly interesting 
reliefs and wall-paintings, including a dcpic- 

below Fragment of painted limestone relieffrom 
the tomb of Thuthotep at Deir el-Bersha, showing 
a procession of servants bearing weapons and, at 
the right-hand side, a carrying chair. 12th 
Dynasty, c.1870 nc, it. 33 cm. (ea1147) 

well as a temple dedicated to various gods, 
which was founded in the reign of Amenhotep 
in (1390-1352 IK.) and almost completely 
rebuilt in the reign of Ptolemy iv (221-205 bc). 
Deir el-Medina was excavated by Ernesto 
Schiaparelli from 1905 to 1909 and by Bernard 
Bruvere between 1917 and 1947. 

The importance of the site to Egyptian 
archaeology as a whole lies in its unusual com¬ 
bination of extensive settlement remains with 
large numbers of ostraca (used for rough 
notes and records), providing important evi¬ 
dence of the socio-economic system of Egypt 
in the 18th to 20th Dynasties. Unfortunately 
this unrivalled opportunity to synthesize con¬ 
temporaneous textual and archaeological data 
from a single site has not been fully realized, 
primarily because of inadequate standards of 

B. Bruyerk, Rapport sur les fouilles de Deir el 
Medineh , 17 vols (Cairo, 1924-53). 

E. Schiaparelli, Relazione sui lavori della 
missione archaeologica italiana in Egitto n (Turin, 

M. L. Bierbrier, The tomb-builders of the 
pharaohs (London, 1982). 

ABOVE Stele ofNeferhotep, workman at Deir el- 
Medina. 19th Dynasty, c. 1250 nc, limestone, 
it. 40 cm. (eaISIO) 

tion of the transportation of a colossal statue 
of the deceased from the HATNL'B travertine 
quarries, some 30 km to the southeast. Closer 
to the river is a group of Christian monu¬ 
ments, including a church and monastery 
(Deir Anba Bishuy) which flourished during 
the sixth and seventh centuries AD. 

P. E. Newberry and F. I.. Griffith, El-Bersheh , 

2 vols (London, 1892). 

Deir el-Medina 

Settlement site on the west bank of the Nile 
opposite Luxor, situated in a bay in the cliffs 
midway between the Ramesseum and Medinet 
Habu. The village of Deir el-Medina was 
inhabited by the workmen who huilt the royal 
tombs in the VALLEY of the rings between the 
early 18th Dynasty and the late Ramesside 
period (c. 1550-1069 bc). The site also incor¬ 
porated the tombs of many of the workmen as 

Plan of Deir el-Medina. 




p Valbellk, Lt’.v ouvriers de la lombe. Deir el- 
jXIedineh a Tepoque ramesside (Cairo, 1985). 

L H. Lesko (ed.), Pharaoh's workers: the villagers 
of Deir el-Medina (Ithaca and London, 1994). 


Term used to describe Lower Egypt, i.e. the 
region north of ancient MEMPHIS. The name 
derives from the fact that the Nile fans out 
into several tributaries as it approaches the 
Mediterranean, creating a triangular area of 
fertile land shaped like the Greek letter delta. 
It was this contrast between the narrow Nile 
valley of Upper Egypt and the broad Delta in 
the north that perhaps led to die concept of 
there having originally been ‘two lands’, unit¬ 
ed into a single state by the first pharaoh. The 
modern Delta is intersected bv only two 
branches of the Nile (the Damietta and 
Rosetta). In the Pharaonic period there were 
five tributaries, but three of them, the 
Canopic, Sebennvtic and Pelusiac branches, 
had dried up by the Islamic period, probably 
because of a combination of canal-digging and 
a small rise in the ground surface of the east¬ 
ern Delta. 

A. Nibbi (ed.). The archaeology, geography and 
history of the Egyptian Delta during the pharaonic 
period (Oxford, 1986). 

E. C. M. van den Brink (ed.), The Nile Delta in 
transition: 4th-3rd millennium nc (Tel Aviv, 1992). 

democratization of the afterlife 

Phrase used to describe the process of usurp¬ 
ing of the pharaoh’s funerary prerogatives by 
private individuals, particularly in terms of the 
identification of the deceased with the god 
OSTRIS. The term ‘democratization’ is, however, 
to some extent a misnomer, and it has been 
argued that the usurping of royal formulae and 
rituals does not necessarily suggest an erosion 
of belief in the kingship. Instead, it is suggest¬ 
ed that the act of imitation might even imply a 
strengthening belief in the effectiveness of the 
institution of kingship. 

S. Quirke, Egyptian religion (London, 1992), 


In Egyptian religion and mythology, the 
demons who affected the living were of two 
main types: the ‘Messengers of SEKHMET’ and 
those associated with the netherworld. 

The first type of demon represents the god¬ 
dess Sckhmet in her evil aspect, and this cate¬ 
gory also includes various other spirits, such as 
the discontented dead, evil spirits and even 
sleepwalkers. This type was thought to be 
especially prevalent at the end of each year and 
had to be warded off by the benevolent 

Resin-covered wooden statuette of a demon (which 
was placed by its 19th-century discoverer on a Late 
Period plinth). 1 9th Dynasty, c .1225 Bcjrom the 
l alley of the Kings, it. of figure 42.5 cm, n. of 
plinth 8.2 cm. (ea61283) 

demons of Osiris and his followers. 'Phis host 
of demons lived at the edge of the created 
world, where they formed the forces of chaos 
which from time to time affected the lives and 
afterlives of humans. 

The demons of the netherworld were still 
more terrifying, and the best known of these 
was ammut, devourer of the hearts of the 
unrighteous, who features prominently beside 
the weighing scale in the vignettes illustrating 
Chapter 125 of die Book of the Dead. The 
walls of some tombs, notably those of Rameses 
Vi (kv9; 1143-1136 bc) and ix (kv6; 1126-1108 
bc), show numerous painted demons from 
these funerary texts. Like the earthly 
demons, these too could be warded off by their 
benevolent counterparts who guarded the 
tomb and its contents. The ‘household gods’, 
such as BES and Aha, are sometimes described 
as benevolent demons, although this is proba¬ 
bly only a reflection of the generally unfocused 
use of the term ‘demon’ in Egyptology. 

D. Meeks, ‘Genies, anges et demons en Egyptc’, 
Genies, anges et demons , Sources orientates vui 
(Paris, 1971). 

G. Pinch, Magic in ancient Egypt (London, 

1994), 33-46. 

demotic (Greek demolika: ‘popular [ script]’ 
or ‘[script] in common use’; also known as 
enchorial, ‘of the country’) 

Cursive script known to the Egyptians as sekh 

shat (‘writing for documents’), which, except 
in religious and funerary matters, had replaced 
the hieratic: script - from which it was derived 
- by the 26th Dynasty (664—525 bc). It was at 
first used only in commercial and bureaucratic 
documents but by the Ptolemaic period 
(332-30 bc.) it was also being used for reli¬ 
gious, scientific and literary texts, including 
the pseudo-history of the Demotic Chronicle , 
the technical Apis Embalming Ritual and the 
Khaemwaset cycle of stories, and the Sayings 
of Ankhsheshonqy (see WISDOM LITERATURE). 
Unlike hieroglyphs and hieratic, which were 
intended for mutually exclusive media, demot¬ 
ic could be used as a monumental script, hence 
its appearance on stelae and as one of the 
three texts on the rosetta stone. 

Demotic continued in use alongside Greek 
throughout the Ptolemaic period, its survival 
being ensured by such features of the admin¬ 
istration as the provision of separate Greek 
and Egyptian lawcourts. The latest surviving 
business documents written entirely in 
demotic date to ad 130 and 175-6, and 
Napthali Lewis has suggested that the demise 
of demotic stemmed principally from the 
nature of the new regime imposed at the 
beginning of the Roman period (f.30 bc), 
whereby legal and administrative documents 
began to be written solely in Greek. Non- 
litcrarv demotic OSTRACA arc found as late as 
ad 232/3, but thereafter the script survived 
only in the production of literary, religious and 
scientific texts and in monumental inscriptions 
(the latest demotic graffito at piiilae being 
dated to ad 452). One of the earliest texts con¬ 
taining traces of the COPTIC alphabet (a combi¬ 
nation of Greek and demotic) is the demotic 




‘ ; Ji -U ‘A\ $4\fl . ’ 

tfyyw* £t>«**J§5HK 


/* ||.U^4'r 


Papyrus from Thebes hearing a demotic inscription 
describing a loan of wheat and barley. Ptolemaic 
period, 194 nc, //. 23 cm. (f.a! 0831) 

London—Leiden Magical Papyrus, dated to 
the third century ad. 

P. W. Pestman, Receuil de texles demotiques et 
bilingues (Leiden, 1977). 

S.Yleeming, ‘La phase initiale du demotique 
ancien’, Chronique d'Egypte 56 (1981), 51—18. 

— (ed.), Aspects of demotic lexicography (Louvain, 

N. Lewis, ‘The demise of the demotic 
document: when and why 1 , JEA 79 (1993), 

Den (Dewen, Udimu) (c2950 bc) 

Ruler of the mid 1st Dynasty who probably 
succeeded his mother yiernf.itii on the throne 
(since she may have acted as regent while he 
was too young to rule in his own right). He was 
the first to add the nesw-bit name (‘he of the 
sedge and the bee’) to his royal titulary. 

King Den is associated with tombs at aby- 
dos and SAQQARA, both of which were con¬ 
structed with the earliest examples of stair¬ 
ways leading down into them, an architectural 
refinement that would have allowed the tombs, 
if necessary, to have been filled up with grave 
goods during the king’s own lifetime (thus 
perhaps acting as storehouses for surplus pro¬ 
duce). The burial chamber of the tomb at 
Abydos dating to the reign of Den was also 
paved with granite slabs and some of the 
wooden roof supports were placed on granite 
blocks; this is the earliest surviving instance of 

stone-built architecture in an Egyptian funer¬ 
ary context. 

Twenty ivory and ebony labels were exca¬ 
vated from the Abydos tomb, eighteen of them 
having been found bv Flinders Petrie in 1900 
among the spoil-heaps left by the earlier exca¬ 
vator, Emile Amelineau. One of the ebony 
tablets shows a scene from the ritual of the 
‘appearances of the king of Upper Egypt and 
the king of Lower Egypt’, a ceremony which 
was probably similar to the sed festival 
(including the earliest depictions of the king 
wearing the ‘double crown’ and also running 
between ritual boundary markers). An ivory 
label for a pair of sandals (now in the British 
Museum) shows the king smiting an Asiatic 
and bears the inscription: ‘first time of striking 
the easterners’; this seems to indicate at least a 
ritual interest in the control of southern 

One of the Early Dynastic burials excavated 
by W. B. Emery in his first season at Saqqara 
in 1935 was Tomb 3035, which contained jar- 
sealings referring to a man called Hemaka, 
who evidently lived in the reign of Den. 
Emery’s first report on Tomb 3035 described 
it as the tomb of King Den’s chancellor in the 
north, but later, on the basis of the size and 
wealth of this and other tombs at Saqqara, 
Emery argued that it must have been the actu¬ 
al burial place of King Den, relegating the 
tomb of Den at Abydos to the role of a mere 
cenotaph. However, many Egyptologists now 
believe that his first theory may have been cor¬ 
rect, making Tomb 3035 the burial place of 
Hemaka, Den’s chancellor of Lower Egypt. 

W. M. F. Petrie, The royal tombs of the first 
dynasty t (London, 1900). 

W. B. Emery, Archaic Egypt (Harmondsworth, 
1961), 73-80. 

A. J. Spencer, Early Egypt (London, 1993), 


Dendera (anc. Iunet, Tanterc, Tentyris) 

Site of the ancient capital of the sixth Upper 
Egyptian NOME, located near modern Qena, 
close to the mouth of the Wadi Hammamat 
route to the Red Sea, making it an important 
centre in Dynastic times. The Dendera 
necropolis ranges in date from the Early 
Dynastic period to the First Intermediate 
Period, including mastaba tombs. There are 
also burials of sacred animals, especially the 
cows associated with the cult of I Iathor, the 
local goddess, whose temple dominates the 

The various surviving buildings making up 
the temple of Hathor date from the 30th 
Dynasty to the Roman period and are sur¬ 
rounded by a well-preserved mud-brick enclo¬ 

sure wall exhibiting the technique of pan ih.ij, 
ding. The main entrance is a comparatively 
small propylon-style gateway rather than a 
large pylon as in most other Upper Egyptian 
temples from the New Kingdom onwards. 

The earliest surviving building is a mammisi 
(birth-house) dating to the reign of Nectanebo 
i (380-362 bc), on the western side of the fore¬ 
court. The main temple, of Ptolemaic and 
Roman date, is dedicated to a local form of 
Hathor who was closely identified with nut, as 
sky-goddess and daughter of ra, as well as 
being associated with the west and therefore 
with the dead. Although the present construc¬ 
tion is late, a temple has stood on the site from 
at least the early New Kingdom and texts in 
the crypt mention a building from the time of 
Pepv 1 (2321-2287 bc) of the 6th Dynasty. 

A number of unfilled cartouches reflect the 
uncertain political conditions of the first cen¬ 
tury bc, while the south exterior wall bears a 
colossal carving of cleopyera vn and her son 
Caesarion before the gods. This wall also has a 
FALSE door, in the form of a Hathor sistrlm 

The first hypostyle hall of the temple of Hathor at 
Dendera, built in the first century .id by the 
Emperor Tiberius. The column base shows damage 
where grains of stone have been ground out for use 
in folk medicine in post-Pharaonic times. 





1 outer hypostyle hall 

2 inner hypostyle hall (surrounded by 
ancillary rooms, e.g. 3 and 4) 

3 ‘laboratory’for perfumes 

4 treasury 

5 first vestibule: hall of offerings 

6 second vestibule: hall of the Ennead 

7 sanctuary surrounded by chapels 

8 corridor 

9 stairs to roof 



Roman mammisi 



0 10 20 30 40 50 m 

Plan of the temple of Hathor at Dendera. 

with wooden canopy (now defaced), where 
those not able to enter the temple might peti¬ 
tion the goddess. 

The columns of the fayade and outer 
hypostyle hall of the temple have capitals in 
the form of the head of Hathor surmounted by 
a jsjAOS-shapcd sistrum. Although most of 
these columns have been damaged, possibly 
during the Christian period, some are well 
preserved. The crypts depict various cult 
objects stored in them, the most important of 
which was a ba statue of Hathor. During New 
Year processions this would visit various parts 
of the temple including the nut chapel and 
the roof chapel where the ba was united with 
the solar disc. The roof also has symbolic mor¬ 
tuary chapels for Osiris, one of which con¬ 
tained a zodiac (now in the Louvre and 
replaced by a copy), as well as figures of Nut 
and scenes relating to the rebirth of Osiris. 

Outside the main temple, along with the 
two mammisis, were a small temple to Isis and 
a sanatorium for the accommodation and heal¬ 
ing of pilgrims. This may have served as an 
‘incubation chamber’ (where pilgrims slept in 
order to receive healing dreams) but it perhaps 
principally functioned as a centre for cippus 
healing (see iiorus). Between the two mammi¬ 
sis are the remains of a basilica of the Christian 

A. Mariette, Denderah , 4 vols (Paris, 1870-3). 

W. M. F. Petrie, Dendereh (London, 1900). 

E. Chassinat and F. Daumas, Le temple de 
Dendara, 6 vols (Cairo, 1934-52). 

H. G. Fischer, Dendera in the 3rd millennium BC 
(New York, 1968). 

F. Daumas, Dendera et le temple d'Hathor (Cairo, 


The Egyptians sometimes referred to the 
desert as deshret (‘red land’) in order to distin¬ 
guish it from the fertile kernel (‘black land’), so 
called because of the black soil that was 
deposited along the banks of the Nile by the 
annual inundation. The epithet ‘red god’ was 
therefore often applied to SETH, the tradition¬ 
al god of chaos, since he was said to rule over 
the deserts and the general disorder that they 
represented, as opposed to the vegetation and 
fertility associated with his mythical counter¬ 
part, osiris. A variety of deities, such as min 
and hathor, were considered to watch over 
the desert routes, affording protection to trav¬ 
ellers. The deserts were essentially considered 
t( > be places of death: first, in the sense of 
wildernesses in which wrongdoers might be 
sent to perish (either as exiles or as forced 

workers in mines or quarries); and, second, as 
the locations of cemeteries. The Western 
Desert was regarded as the entrance to the 
underworld where the sun disappeared each 
night. Various funerary texts describe the 
perilous deserts surrounding the kingdom of 
the dead itself. 

The hieroglyph for desert consists of a dia¬ 

grammatic view of a range of three hills sepa¬ 
rated by valleys, since the deserts were also 
mountains, in that they lay at a higher level 
than the intervening Nile valley. The ‘desert’ 
hieroglyph was also used as a ‘determinative’ 
sign with reference to any foreign country 
Although not impassable, the deserts formed a 
barrier around Egypt protecting it from its 


didactic: literature 

neighbours and probably helping to promote 
the sometimes introspective tendencies of the 

11. Kees, Ancient Egypt: a cultural topography 
(London, 1961). 

I. Si i aw, ‘The black land, the red land’, Egypt: 
ancient culture , modern land , ed. J. Malek 
(Sydney, 1993), 12-27. 

didactic literature see wisdom literature 

Diodorus Siculus (//. <-.40 bc) 

Historian born in the Sicilian town of 
Agyrium, who is well known for the descrip¬ 
tion of Egypt included in the first book of his 
Bibliotheca llistnrica , a history of the world 
from the earliest times until Julius Caesar’s 
conquest of Gaul. Although his own work is 
considered by scholars to be undistinguished, 
his writings are often valuable for the frag¬ 
ments reproduced from more important 
works. His account of the process of mummifi¬ 
cation, for instance, gives details not recorded 
by HERODOTUS, including the fact that the 
embalmer's incision was made on the left 
flank. He also records that the viscera were 
washed after their removal, and he claims that 
the man responsible for opening the corpse 
was usually driven away by his colleagues (an 
act which is now generally presumed to have 
been ritual). Few details have survived con¬ 
cerning the life of Diodorus, but he is known 
to have lived until at least 21 bc. 

F R. Walton, Diodorus of Sicily (London and 
Cambridge, MA, 1967). 

A. Burton, Diodorus Siculus I: a commentary 
(Leiden, 1972). 

Diospolis Parva see i-iiw-semaina region 

diplomacy see amarna letters 

diseases see medicine 

divine adoratrice (Egyptian dwat-netjer) 
Religious title held by women, the precise 
connotations of which are not fully under¬ 
stood. It was originally adopted by the daugh¬ 
ter of the chief priest of the god amun in the 
reign of Hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc). During 
the time of the sole reign of Thutmose in 
(1479-1425 bc) it was held by the mother of 
his principal wife. By the Third Intermediate 
Period it was held together with the title god’s 
wife of amun. 

G. Robins, Egyptian women (London, 1994), 149, 

djed pillar 

Roughly cruciform symbol with at least three 

cross-bars. Its origins seem to bc among the 
fetish symbols of the Predynastic period, and 
it has been suggested that it might represent a 
pole around which grain was tied. Over the 
course of time it came to represent the more 
abstract concept of stability, and, like the ank.ii 
and WAS sceptre hieroglyphs, was commonly 
used in this sense in decorative friezes. 
Although the djed pillar was originally associ¬ 
ated with the god SOKAR, PTAH, the patron 
deity of Memphis, is sometimes described as 
‘the noble Djed'. It was because of the associa¬ 
tion of Ptah with Sokar and therefore also with 
OSIRIS, god of the dead, that the djed pillar 

Amulet in the form of a djed pillar. Suite period , 
faience, it. 11.1 cm. (ea 12235) 

eventually became a symbol of Osiris. In the 
Book of the Dead it is said to represent his 
backbone, and certain depictions of the pillar 
portray it with human arms holding the royal 

It was probably at Memphis that kings first 
performed the ceremony of ‘raising the djed 
pillar’, the best-know n depiction of w hich is in 
the Osiris Hall at abydos, although the ritual 
was also incorporated into one of the SED fes¬ 
tivals of Amenhotep in (1390-1352 bc) at 
Thebes. This act not only served as a 


metaphor for the stability of the monarchy hut 
also symbolized the resurrection of Osiris. 

J. van derVliet, ‘Raising the djed: a rite de 
marge’, Ah ten Miinchen 1985 III, ed. S. Schoske 
(Hamburg, 1989), 405-11. 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 164-5. 

Djer (< .3000 bc) 

Early king of the 1st Dynasty, who w as proha- 
bly third in the sequence of rulers beginning 
with narmkr (as listed on a recently excavated 
clay seal impression from the royal cemetery at 
ABYDOS). He may also be the same king as Iti, 
who is mentioned in the king list in the tem¬ 
ple of Sety 1 at abydos. A rock-carving at 
Gebel Sheikh Suleiman was once interpreicd 
as evidence of a military campaign launched 
into Nubia at this time, but William Murnane 
has now shown that it dated earlier than the 
reign of Djer. 

The burial chamber of his tomb at Abydos 
(which some scholars still interpret as a ceno¬ 
taph rather than an actual burial-place) was 
floored with wooden planks. From the reign of 
Djer onwards, each royal tomb at Abydos con¬ 
tained a number of chambers in which differ¬ 
ent types of grave goods were placed, ranging 
from stone vases sealed with golden lids, cop¬ 
per bowls, gold bracelets, food, weapons, tools 
and furniture made from ivory and ebony. 
I Iidden in the northern wall of Djer’s tomb 
was a linen-wrapped human arm adorned w ith 
bracelets of gold and gemstones, perhaps left 
behind by tomb-robbers. On arrival at Cairo 
Museum the arm was discarded and only the 
jewellery was kept, therefore it is still not dear 
whether the limb was that of Djer himself. At 
least as early as the Middle Kingdom, his 
tomb was converted into a cenotaph of the god 
Osiris, and when it was first excavated by 
Emile Amelineau, the burial chamber con¬ 
tained a stone image of Osiris on a funerary 

W. M. F. Petrie, The royal tombs of the First 
Dynasty i (London, 1900). 

W. B. Emery, Great tombs of the First Dynasty. 3 
vols (Cairo and London, 1949-58). 

W. J. Murnane, ‘The Gebel Sheikh Suleiman 
monument: epigraphic remarks’, jfNES 46 
(1987), 282-5. 

Djet (Wadj, ‘Serpent’) (r.2980 bc) 

Ruler of the 1st Dynasty who w r as probably 
buried in Tomb z at Abydos, which was exca¬ 
vated by Emile Amelineau and Flinders Petrie 
at the end of the nineteenth century and re¬ 
excavated in 1988 by Werner Kaiser and 
Gunther Dreyer. His rectangular wood-lined 
burial chamber is now known to have been 




surmounted by a brick-cased mound of sand 
or rubble hidden beneath the main rectangular 
superstructure. Probably the finest of the lst- 
Pynasty funerary stelae (now in the Louvre) 
was found by Amelineau in the vicinity of the 
tomb; carved from fine limestone, it bears the 
serpent hieroglyph (the phonetic value of 
which is djet) framed by a royal serekii and 
surmounted by a IIORUS falcon. Both the 
impressive Tomb 3504 at Saqqara (probably 
belonging to Sekhemka, an official during 
Djet’s reign) and a large mastaba tomb at Giza 
have been dated to Djet’s reign by the pres¬ 
ence of seal impressions bearing his name. 

W. M. F. Petrie, The royal tombs of the first 
dynasty I (London, 1900). 

W. B. Emery, Great tombs of the first dynasty n 
(London, 1954). 

—, Archaic Egypt (London, 1961), 69—73. 

G. Dreyer, ‘Umm el-Qaab: 

Nachuntersuchungen im friihzeitlichen 
Konigsfriedhof 5./6. Yorbericht’, MDAIK 49 
(1993), 57. 

Djoser (Zoser; Netjerikhet) (2667-2648 bc) 
Second ruler of the 3rd Dynasty, whose archi¬ 
tect, Imhotep, constructed the Step Pyramid 
at saqqara, which was not only the first 
pyramidal funerary complex but also the earli¬ 
est example of large-scale stone masonry in 
Egypt (see pyramids). Despite the fame of his 
tomb, few facts are known concerning Djoser 
himself or the events of his reign, and most of 
the ‘historical’ information concerning his 
reign takes the form of late sources, such as the 
Famine Stele at Sehel (see famine and khnum). 
Only the Horus name Netjerikhet was found 
in 3rd-Dynasty inscriptions associated with 
the pyramid, and it is only through New 
Kingdom graffiti that an association has 
been made between this name and Djoser. A 
number of fragments of statuary representing 
Netjerikhet were recovered from the pyramid 
complex, including an almost life-size seated 
statue from the serdab (now in Cairo), and 
on the walls of one of the subterranean gal¬ 
leries to the east of the burial chamber were 
three reliefs depicting the king enacting 
various rituals. 

C. M. Firth, J. E. Quibell and J.-P. Lauer, The 
Step Pyramid , 2 vols (Cairo, 1935-6). 

E E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt, 5th ed. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 34-58. 


One ancient Egyptian word for dog is the ono¬ 
matopoeic imiw, referring to its barking noise. 
A number of different types of dogs can be 
^cognized from depictions in tombs, many of 
•^em tall sleek breeds suitable for hunting. 

The identification of specific breeds from such 
representations is difficult, since modern 
breed definitions allow little flexibility. Suffice 
it to say that breeds closely related to the 
basenji, saluki and greyhound can be identi¬ 
fied, while there is a more general category of 
dogs apparently related to mastiffs and dachs¬ 

As well as having a role in the hunt, some 
dogs served as domestic pets or guard dogs 
and even police dogs. Their qualities of faith¬ 
fulness and bravery arc sometimes referred to 
in the names they were given; these names are 
known from inscriptions on leather collars as 
well as from depictions on stelae and reliefs. 
Thus w T e know' of ‘Brave One’, ‘Reliable’ and 
‘Good Herdsman’, as well as simpler names 
referring to their colour. There were, however, 
sometimes more negative aspects of the 
Egyptians’ attitude to dogs: their air of domes¬ 
tic subservience could be used as an insult, and 
some texts include references to prisoners as 
‘the king’s dogs’. 

Since the jackal and the dog were not well 
separated in the Egyptian mind they were 
both regarded as sacred to ANUBIS, sometimes 
being buried as sacred ANIMALS in the 
Anubieion catacombs at Saqqara, although 
unfortunately there is little information avail¬ 
able concerning the particular species of dog at 
this site. The term ‘Anubis animal’, rather 
than jackal, is sometimes used, since its iden¬ 
tification is a matter of debate. Domestic dogs 
might also receive special burial, either along 
w ith their owners - a practice known from the 
earliest dynasties — or in their own coffins. 

M. Ll rker, ‘Ilund und Wolf in ihrer Beziehung 
zum Tode’, Antaios 10 (1969), 199-216. 

II. G. Fischer, ‘Hunde, Ilundestele’, Lexikon 
der Agyptologie in, cd. W. Hclck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1980), 77-82. 

W. Barta, ‘Schakal ’, Lexikon der Agyptologie v, 
ed. W. Ilelck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1984), 526-8. 

R. Janssen and J. J. Janssf.n, Egyptian domestic 
animals (Aylesbury, 1989), 9-13. 

D. J. Brewer, D. B. Redpord and S. Redford, 
Domestic plants and animals: the Egyptian origins 
(Warminster, 1994), 110-18. 

donkeys see animal husbandry 

Dra Abu el-Naga see thebes 

Dreams played an important role in 
Egyptian culture, principally because they 
were thought to serve as a means of commu¬ 
nicating the will of the gods and serving as 
clues to future events. Papyrus Chester 

Beatty m in the British Museum, an early 
Ramesside document found at dier el-medi- 
w, describes a number of dreams, each of 
which is followed by an interpretation and an 
evaluation as to whether it was good or bad. 
It is suggested, for instance, that if a man 
dreamed of drinking warm beer, this was bad 
and he would inevitably undergo suffering. 
Although the papyrus itself dates to the early 
thirteenth century bc, the language of the 
text suggests that this dream-list was origi¬ 
nally compiled in the Middle Kingdom 
(2055-1650 bc). 

In royal propaganda (see kingship), stelae 
sometimes recount the pseudo-prophetic 
dreams of pharaohs as a means of justifying 
their succession to the throne. The classic 
example of the royal dream stele was erected 
by thutmose iy (1400-1390 bc) in front of the 
Great sphinx at Giza, describing how, as a 
young prince, he fell asleep in the shade of the 
sphinx and was then told in a dream that if he 
cleared the sand away from its flanks he would 
become king of Egypt. Centuries later, the 
Kushite pharaoh (664-656 bc.) set 
up a similar stele in the temple of Amun at the 
Napatan capital city Gebel Barkal (see napa- 
ta), describing a dream in which the throne of 
Egypt and Nubia was offered to him by two 
serpents, w ho presumably symbolized the ‘two 
ladies’, the goddesses of Upper and Lower 
Egypt. Tanutamani’s stele thus provides a 
mythical explanation for the unusual Kushite 
crowns, which are adorned with double uraei: 
when the king awoke from his dream he w f as 
told, ‘the two goddesses shine on your brow, 
the land is given to you in its length and 

From the Late Period (747-332 bc) 
onwards it became relatively common for indi¬ 
viduals to sleep within temple enclosures so 
that oracles could be communicated to them 
through divinely inspired dreams (see bes). 
The Greek term onirocrites was used to 
describe the priests whose role was to interpret 
these dreams. 

J. H. Breasted, Ancient records of Egypt iy 
(Chicago, 1906), 469. 

S. SaunerON, Lessongeset leur interpretation 
(Paris, 1959). 

J. D. Ray, The archive of Hoc (London, 1976), 

C. Zivie, Giza au deuxieme millenaire (Cairo, 
1976), 130-1. 

J. D. Ray, ‘An agricultural dream: ostracon bm 
5671’, Pyramid studies and other essays presented to 
I. E. S. Edwards, ed. J. Baines et al. (London 
1988), 176-83. 

dress see clothing 





The Egyptians believed that unity was empha¬ 
sized by the complementarity of its parts. 
Thus the king of a united Egypt still bore the 
title ‘lord of the two lands’ (neb tarny) and ‘he 
of the sedge and the bee’ (nesw-bit). Similarly, 
the country was divided into the black land 
( kernel) and the red land ( deshret ), and split 
between the east (the land of the living) and 
die west (the realm of the dead). The earth was 
distinct from the heavens but the two together 
were the complementary halves of the created 
universe, while beyond the borders of the 
universe was the ‘uncreated’, the chaos from 

The personifications of Lower Egypt (left) and 
Upper Egypt (right) crown the pharaoh Ptolemy 
n Phi/ometer with the double crown. Duality was 
an important part of Egyptian thought. Temple of 
Homs at Edfu. (i> t. nicholson) 

which man and the gods had emerged (see 
Creation and nun). 

This duality is present at many levels of 
thought and symbolism, so that there are 
gods of Upper and Lower Egypt, and gods of 
the living and the dead. The mythical strug¬ 
gle between iiorus and SETH was essentially 
regarded as the universal struggle between 
good and evil, the triumph of light over 
darkness and the prevailing of order over 
chaos. In more pragamatic terms the king¬ 
ship (personified by the god Horus) and the 
ordered bureaucracy which it encouraged 
were seen to be stronger than the powers of 

IT Kees, Ancient Egjrpt: a cultural topography , 
ed. T. G. H. James (London, 1961). 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989). 

dwarfs and pygmies (Egyptian deneg, nem ) 
Although the same Egyptian term (deneg) 
appears to have been used for both dwarfs and 
pygmies, the Egyptians’ attitudes to each of 
these categories differed considerably. 

Cases of dwarfism seem to have been fairly 
common; the condition results from the fail¬ 
ure of the bones to ossify properly, resulting 
in stunted growth (achondroplasia), and sev¬ 
eral such skeletons have survived, as well as 
numerous depictions in reliefs and statuary. 
One particularly striking late 4th- or early 
5th-Dynastv ‘group statue’ depicts the dwarf 
Seneb and his family. Seneb held several offi¬ 
cial positions: he was overseer of the palace 
dwarfs, chief of the royal wardrobe, and priest 
of the funerary cults of Khufu (2589-2566 bc) 
and Djedefra (2566-2558 bc). His statue 
shows him seated cross-legged beside his wife 
Senetites, who was of normal stature, while 
his children stand immediately in front of 
him, apparently conveniently masking the 
area where his legs would have been if his 
limbs had been of normal proportions. The 
wealth and prestige evidently enjoyed by 
Seneb, to judge from his titles, tomb and 
funerary equipment, was not unusual for 
Egyptian dwarfs in general, many of whom 
appear to have had skilled or responsible 
occupations. They are depicted as jewellery- 
makers in the Old Kingdom tomb of mereru- 
ka at Saqqara, and they are also shown tend¬ 
ing animals, undertaking agricultural work, 
and sometimes providing entertainment for 
high officials. Seneb’s marriage to a woman 
who was a lady of die court and a priestess is 
one of many indications that male dwarfs were 
not obliged to marry women with similar 
deformities. The apparent lack of prejudice 
against dwarfs is perhaps also indicated by the 
fact that a number of gods, notably res, show 
signs of dwarfism. 

Pygmies, however, seem to have received 
rather less beneficent treatment than dwarfs, 
no doubt because they were essentially for¬ 
eigners. They were generally imported into 
Egypt from tropical Africa, often serving as 
‘dancers before the god’, temple dancers or 
acrobats in the service of RA. The decoration of 
the Old Kingdom tomb of Harkhuf (A8) at 
Qubbet el-Hawa (see ASWAN) includes a copy 
of a letter from the young 6th-Dynasty ruler 
fepy n (2278-2184 bc:), urging Harkhuf, who 
was on his way back from an expedition to the 
south of Sudan, to take great care of the danc- 

Painted limestone group statue of the dwarf Seneb 
with his wife Senetites and their two children. Late 
4th or early 5th Dynasty, c.2500 bc, from Giza, 
h. 34 cm. (Cairo, jesIISO) 

ing pygmy he has acquired. The king is quot¬ 
ed as saying, ‘my majesty- desires to see this 
pygmy more than the gifts of the mine-land 
[Sinai] and of Punt’. 

K. R. Weeks, The anatomical knowledge of the 
ancient Egyptians and the representation of the 
human figure in Egyptian art (Ann Arbor, 1981). 

O. ei.-Aguizy, ‘Dwarfs and pygmies in ancient 
Egypt’, ASAE 71 (1987), 53-60. 

V. DaseN, Dwarfs in ancient Egypt and Greece 
(Oxford, 1993). 

dyad (pair-statue) 

Pair of statues, often carved from the same 
block of material, either representing a man 
and his wife or depicting two versions ol the 
same person. Sometimes the man and wife arc 
accompanied by their children, usually carved 
next to their legs. There are also occasional 
groups of two or three identical funerary stat¬ 
ues portraying a single individual, one ol the 
earliest examples being the dyad of the ?th- 
Dynasty priest of RA, Nimaatsed, from man i a- 
ba tomb d 56 at Saqqara (now in Cairo). It has 
been suggested that the intention of such 
‘pseudo-groups’ may have been to represent 
the body and the spiritual manifestations of 
the deceased (see ka). It is possible that royal 
dyads, such as the unusual granite double stat¬ 
ue of Amenemhat m from Tanis (also in 
Cairo), may portray both the mortal and dei¬ 
fied aspects of the pharaoh. 

M. Saleh and H. Sourouzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo: official catalogue (Mainz, 1987), 
cat. nos 48 and 104. 




The division of the Pharaonic period into 
dynasties was a chronological system intro¬ 
duced by the priest manetho in the early third 
century bc, when he composed his history of 
Egypt (the Aegyptiaca). The thirty-one dynas¬ 
ties consisted of groups of rulers stretching 
from the time of the semi-mythical first 
pharaoh menes to Alexander the great. In 
general Manetho's dynasties appear to corre¬ 
spond quite closely to the grouping of kings 
suggested by various earlier king lists, such as 
the TURIN ROYAL CANON, and in modern 
chronologies the dynasties are usually grouped 
into ‘kingdoms’ and ‘intermediate periods’. 
The distinction between one dynasty and 
another occasionally seems rather arbitrary but 
two of the most important determining factors 
appear to have been changes in royal kinship 
links and the location of the capital. 

Because of the tendency to regard the king- 
ship as a unique and indivisible phenomenon, 
Manetho’s dynasties, like the groups of rulers 
in Pharaonic king lists, tend to be treated as if 
they occurred in a linear sequence, one after 
the other, whereas it is now known that some 
of them (such as the 13th to 17th Dynasties) 
represented roughly contemporaneous and 
overlapping sequences of rulers who con¬ 
trolled only certain parts of the country. See 

W. G. Waddf.i.i., Manetho (Cambridge, MA, and 
London, 1940). 

W. Helck, Untersuchungen zu Manetho und der 
dgyptischen Koniglisten (Berlin, 1956). 

D. Redford, Pharaonic king-lists, annals and day¬ 
books: a contribution to the study of the Egyptian 
sense of history (Mississauga, 1986). 

S. Quirke, Who were the pharaohs? (London, 


Early Dynastic period (3100-2686 bc) 
Chronological phase, often described as the 
Archaic period, comprising the first two 
dynasties of the Pharaonic period, during 
which many of the major aspects of the culture 
and society of the Pharaonic period emerged. 
Some scholars include the 3rd Dynasty 
(2686—2613 bc) in the Early Dynastic period, 
but most chronologies treat the 3rd to 6th 
Dynasties as the old KINGDOM. 

The transition from the predynastic peri¬ 
od to die 1st Dynasty was once regarded as a 
sudden political event, such as an invasion. 
The material culture of the period, however, 
suggests that the emergence of the Early 
Dynastic monarchy was a very gradual 

A certain degree of controversy still sur¬ 
rounds the question of the location of the royal 
tombs of the 1st and 2nd Dynasties, given that 
there are elite cemeteries of the period at both 
ABYDOS and SAQQARA, both of which include 
inscriptions bearing 1st- and 2nd-Dvnasty 
royal names. Current opinion, however, tends 
more towards Abydos as the royal cemetery 
and Saqqara as the burial ground of the high 
officials of the time. 

The tombs at Abydos and Saqqara have 
yielded some of the earliest Egyptian textual 
evidence, primarily in the form of stone stelae, 
wooden and ivory labels, inscribed pottery jars 
and clay seal impressions. On the basis of 
these documents, together with the evidence 
of radiocarbon dating, the rough chronological 
structure of the period has been reconstruct¬ 
ed. The sequence of lst-Dynasty kings, all of 
whom were probably buried at Abydos, is now 
widely accepted as narmer, aha, djer, djet, 
den, anedjib, semerkhet and qa*a, with 
Queen merneith serving as a regent, probably 
either before or after the reign of Den. The 
chronology of the early 2nd-Dynasly kings, 
who were probably buried at saqqara, is more 
nebulous, perhaps taking the form: 
Hetepsekhemwy, Raneb, Nvnetjer, Weneg and 
Sened. The last two rulers of the 2nd Dynasty 
were peribsen and KHASEKHEMWY, both buried 
at Abydos. 

B. G. Trigger, ‘The rise of Egyptian 
civilization’, Indent Egypt: a social history , cd. 

B. G. Trigger et al. (Cambridge, 1983), 1-70. 

I. Shaw, ‘The Egyptian Archaic period: a 
reappraisal of the C-l 4 dates’, GM 78 (1984), 

K. Bard, ‘Toward an interpretation of the role of 
ideology in the evolution of complex society in 
Egypt’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology n 
(1992), 1-24. 

A. J. Spencer, Early Egypt: the rise of civilization 
in the Nile valley (London, 1993). 

B. G. Trigger, Early civilization: ancient Egypt 
in context (Cairo, 1993). 

economics see administration; 
agriculture; copper; gold; iron; silver; 
stone; taxation; trade and wood. 

Edfu (anc. Djeb, Apollonopolis Magna) 

Upper Egyptian site dominated by a large, 
well-preserved temple dedicated to the hawk- 
god horus. The earliest securely dated histor¬ 
ical evidence in the region of Edfu is a rock¬ 
carving of the name of the lst-Dvnasty king 
djet (r.2980 bc), in the desert to the east of the 
main site, as well as a necropolis of the Early 
Dynastic period (3100-2686 bc). 

The main site includes settlement and 
funerary remains covering the entire Dynastic 

Plan of the temple of Horus at Edfu. 




Pylon of the temple of Homs at Edfu. The south 
face of the pylon is decorated with reliefs showing 
Ptolemy XU smiting foreigners. On either side of 
the gateway are statues of the hawk-god Homs. 
Ptolemaic period, 71 bc, H. of eastern tower 44 m. 
(p. '/: NICHOLSON) 

period, but a substantial proportion of the 
buildings remain unexcavated. The French 
and Polish excavators of the 1920s and 1930s 
examined the temple as well as the Greco- 
Roman and Byzantine levels of the surround¬ 
ing settlement. The construction of the 
Ptolemaic temple of Horus, which was found¬ 
ed on the site of a much earlier Pharaonic tem¬ 
ple, dates to the period between the reigns of 
Ptolemy tu and xit (246-51 bc). The reliefs and 
inscriptions on the walls include the myth of 
the contendings of Horus and SETH (probably 
performed annually as a religious drama) and 
an important account of the ritual foundation 
of the temple. 

M. de Rochemonteix andE. Chassinat, Lc 
temple d’Edfou (Paris, 1892; Cairo, 1918-). 

K. Michalowskj et al.. Tell Edfou, 4 vols (Cairo, 

II. W. Furman, ‘Worship and festivals in an 
Egyptian temple’. Bulletin of the John Ry lands 
Library , Manchester 37 (1954), 165—203. 

—, The triumph of Horus: an ancient Egyptian 
sacred drama (London, 1974). 

S. Cauvili.e, La theologie d’Osiris a Edfou (Cairo, 

—, Edfou (Cairo, 1984). 


Few ancient Egyptians were given any formal 
education, and the majority of the people were 
illiterate. For the latter, training was essential¬ 
ly vocational: practical trades and crafts were 

passed on from one generation to another, and 
boys often appear to have served apprentice¬ 
ships under their fathers. Usually a son would 
be expected to take over his father’s trade or 
post and eventually to provide the principal 
means of support for the family. There is little 
surviving evidence concerning the training or 
education of women, although daughters gen¬ 
erally seem to have acquired domestic skills, 
such as weaving and cooking, from their 

For the elite members of Egyptian society, 
education was essentially a matter of scribal 
training, since the use of writing was the key 
to Egyptian administration and economic 
organization, and the sphere of the trained 
scribe extended beyond writing to the roles of 
manager and bureaucrat. A document from 
the fourteenth regnal year of Psamtek i 
(664-610 bc) contains the individual signa¬ 
tures of fifty high officials, ranging from 
PRIESTS to viziers, thus indicating the wide¬ 
spread literacy of the members of the ruling 
elite in the 26th Dynasty at least. Many of the 
surviving texts from the Pharaonic period 
were intended to function not only as literary 
works but also as educational textbooks, such 
as the Miscellanies , and often the very survival 
of these documents is owed largely to constant 
copying as a means of acquiring writing skills. 
The question of the extent of female literacy is 
still a matter of considerable debate; it is pos¬ 
sible that a small proportion of women could 
read and write, since there are surviving letters 
to and from women at the New Kingdom 
workmen’s village of Deir el-Medina 
(c. 1500-1100 bc), although it is equally possi¬ 
ble that such documents might have been 
written and read by male SCRIBES on behalf of 
female patrons. 

Written education was very clearly addressed 
to boys, and many of the so-called ‘wisdom 
texts’ are presented in the form of sets of 
instructions spoken by fathers to sons (see 
ethics and wisdom literature). The sons of 
the elite seem to have been given a broader 
education involving reading, writing and 
mathematics. Such boys would probably 
have been taught in a scribal school attached to 
some particular division of the administration 
such as the house OF life in a temple or, in 
the most privileged cases, at the royal court 
itself. For most of the Pharaonic period the 
hieratic script would have been the first to be 
learned, with only a few selected individuals 
then being instructed in the more elaborate 
and artistic hieroglyphs. The subject of math¬ 
ematics was evidently taught by means of 
numerous examples rather than by the use 
of abstract formulae, so that problems were 
usually broken down into a repetitive series of 
smaller calculations. 

Learning was by rote, in that most lessons 
appear to have taken the form of copying out 
exercises and committing long passages of text 
to memory. The exercises took the form of 
model LETTERS, reports and selections from 
‘instructions’ such as the Book of Kernyt. 
Frequently such instructions presented a dis¬ 
tinctly biased view of society, praising the 
scribal profession and sometimes satirizing 
other ways of life (see humour). School disci¬ 
pline was strict, and one text includes the 
memorable phrase: ‘A boy’s ear is on his back 
- he listens when he is beaten’. 

T.G.II. James, Pharaoh s people: scenes from life 
in ancient Egypt (Oxford, 1984), 136-51. 

E. Strouhai., Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 

1992) , 31-7. 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 

1993) , 111-14. 

D. Sweeney, ‘Women’s correspondence from 
Dcir cl-Mcdineh’, Sesto Congresso Intemazionale 
di Egittologia, Atti u (Turin, 1993), 523—9. 


Some scholars date the beginning of the disci¬ 
pline of Egyptology to 22 September 1822, the 
day on which Jean-Franfois champollion 
wrote his Lettre a M. Dacier relative a Ealpha - 
bet des phonetiques , in which he 
demonstrated that he had deciphered the 
hieroglyphic script. Champollion, however, 
was undoubtedly already drawing on the work 
of earlier writers, such as horapollo, and 
Thomas young, and his work was actually the 
culmination of hundreds of years of earlier 
‘rediscovery’ of ancient Egypt. 

The Egyptian civilization was already 
regarded as a venerable and ancient one by the 




Photograph showing ‘Cleopatra V needle' in the 
process of being prepared for transportation by the 
British engineer Janies Dixon. The obelisk was placed 
in a specially-made metal cylinder, towed by boat to 
England, and eventually erected on the Thames 
Embankment in 1878, only a year after Dixon had 
been contracted to bring it from Egypt. ( reproduced 

time that the Greek historian HERODOTUS 
(r.484-420 bc.) compiled the first general 
account of the culture as a whole. Pharaonic 
Egypt was also a source of considerable interest 
to Arabic scholars of the Middle Ages. Many of 
these early accounts mixed observation with 
fantasy, and more than a little interest in 
treasure hunting, but some show a genuine 
curiosity about the names and histories of 
the builders of the great monuments. It was 
obvious to Arabic scholars and early travellers 
that the tombs and temples were covered in 
carvings, the mysterious hieroglyphs, and it 
was this aspect of Egy ptian civilization that 
attracted the attention of European scholars 
such as the German priest Athanasius Kircher, 
who undertook important research into Coptic 
and Arabic manuscripts before turning his 
attention to the hieroglyphs. Unfortunately, he 
mistakenly believed these signs to be purely 
symbolic and non-phonetic, which led him to 
the fantastic interpretations of texts that in 
later times have earned him a somewhat unjus¬ 
tified notoriety. 

The foundations of Egyptological knowledge 
were laid by such European ‘travellers’ as 
Richard Pococke, Claude Sicard and Frederick 
Ludwig Norden, whose pioneering accounts of 
the Pharaonic sites they visited are in some cases 
the only record of monuments that have long 
since fallen victim to plundering or natural 

deterioration. However, the first systematic 
exploration of Egypt was undertaken at the end 
of the eighteenth century by a small team of 
French scholars accompanying Napoleon’s mil¬ 
itary expedition through the Nile valley. The 
task of these ‘savants’ was to record all aspects of 
Egypt’s flora, fauna and history, and their 
results were published between 1809 and 1822 
as the twenty-four-volume Description de 
I'Egyple. Napoleon’s expedition was brought to 
an end by the British, bur the scholars were 
allowed to continue their work until 1802. When 
Alexandria was surrendered to the British, the 
collections made by the savants were also hand¬ 
ed over, including certain objects, such as the 
ROSETTA STONE, that were to prove crucial to the 
development of Egyptology. 

Large numbers of individual European 
travellers and collectors began to visit Egypt 
in the nineteenth century, along with several 
further large-scale scientific expeditions, 
most notably the work of Jean-Franyois 
Champollion and Ippolito rosellini between 
1828 and 1829, as well as the ambitious 
and wide-ranging researches of the German 
scholar Karl Richard lepsius between 1842 
and 1845. Lepsius’ expedition undertook 
extensive mapping and a certain amount of 
excavation, recording some sites not visited 
by the French as well as adding further 
details to the accounts of known sites; his 
work was published under the title of 
Denkmaeler aus Acgypten und Aethiopien. In 
the English-speaking world, the first compre¬ 
hensive and reliable description of Egyptian 
antiquities and culture was Sir John Gardner 
Wilkinson’s monumental Manners and 
customs of the ancient Egyptians , published in 
three volumes in 1837, after twelve years 
of continuous fieldwork in Egypt and Nubia. 

These scientific expeditions unfortunately 
took place against a background of looting 
and collecting by such pioneers as Bernardino 
Drovetti and Giovanni beezoni. The antiquities 
acquired by such men eventually formed the 
nuclei of important national collections, such as 
the British Museum, the Louvre, the Berlin 
museums and the Museo Egizio in Turin. In 
1858 the Pasha appointed a Frenchman, 
Auguste MARlETTE, to oversee all future excava¬ 
tion in Egypt. Not only did this mark the begin¬ 
ning of more orderly study but it also reflected 
an increasing involvement in the conservation 
and detailed analysis of the monuments. 

Gradually the subject gained respectability, 
partly through the establishment of a number 
of important academic posts in Egyptology, 
and scholars such as Flinders petrie and 
George reesner were able to develop increas- 

Portrait in oils of Howard Carter, painted by his 
elder brother William in 1924. (reproduced 

ingly meticulous techniques of field recording 
and excavation. As a result, from the 1890s 
onwards the subject became increasingly pro¬ 
fessional in nature. Mariettc’s overseeing of 
excavations developed into the Egyptian 
Antiquities Service (the modern incarnation 
of which is the Supreme Council for 
Antiquities), which is now responsible for 
granting excavation permits to foreign mis¬ 
sions, as well as co-ordinating their work in the 
best interests of the Egyptian people. This 
increasingly involves the rescue of sites and 
monuments endangered by construction 
works, such as the ASWAN high dam in the 
1960s, the Cairo ‘waste-water project’ in the 





1 part of the town ^ 

2 temple of Nekhbet 

3 temple of Thoth 

4 sacred lake 

5 rock-cut sanctuary 
of Shesmetet 

6 el-Hamman: 
chapel of Setau 

7 ‘vulture rock’: rock 
carvings and inscriptions 
(prehistoric - Old Kingdom) 

8 chapel of Amenhotep III 

9 rock tombs of 

New Kingdom nomarchs 

5 U. % 






1000 m 

1980s, and the el-Salaam canal in northern 
Sinai during the 1990s. In terms of the popu¬ 
lar conception of Egyptology, however, these 
rescue projects have been distinctly overshad¬ 
owed by Howard carter’s discovery of the 
tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, which was the 
first great ‘media event’ in the history of 
Egyptology, capturing the imagination of sub¬ 
sequent generations of scholars. 

Modern Egyptologists draw on a huge 
diversity of techniques and disciplines, 
including sophisticated geophysical survey, 
meticulous excavation and recording in plans 
and photographs, computer-generated recon¬ 
structions, as well as the more traditional 
fields of epigraphy (copying of inscriptions, 
paintings and reliefs) and papvrology. 

See Appendix 1 for a list of the names and 
dates of the major early travellers and 
Egyptologists mentioned in the text. 

K. R. Lepsius, Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und 
Aethiopien, 12 vols (Berlin, 1849-59). 

B. M. Fagan, The rape of the Nile: tomb robbers, 
tourists and archaeologists in Egypt (London, 1977). 
J. Vercoutter, The search for ancient Egypt 
(London, 1992). 

D. O’Connor, ‘Egyptology and archaeology: an 
African perspective’, A history of African 
archaeology , ed. P. Robcrtshaw (London, 1990), 

W. R. Dawson, E. P. Uphill and M. Bierbrier, 
Who was who in Egyptology , 3rd cd. (London, 

el- All site names beginning with ‘cl-’ (Arabic 
‘the’) are alphabetized under the second part 
of the name, e.g. Kurru, el-. 

Elephantine see aswan 

Elkab (anc. Nekheb) 

Upper Egyptian site on the east bank of the 
Nile at the mouth of Wadi Hillal, about 80 km 
south of Luxor, consisting of prehistoric and 
Pharaonic settlements, rock-cut tombs of the 
early 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 Bt:), remains of 
temples dating from the Early Dynastic period 
(3100-2686 bc) to the Ptolemaic period 
(332-30 bc), as well as part of the walls of a 
Coptic: monastery. First scientifically exca¬ 
vated by James Quibcll at the end of the 
nineteenth century, the site has been inves¬ 
tigated primarily by Belgian archaeologists 
since 1937. 

The walled Pharaonic settlement of 
Nekheb was one of the first urban centres of 
the Early Dynastic period, and for a short time 

Setau and his wife seated before a table of offerings. 
Tomb of Setau at Elkab. (p. t. nicholson) 

Plan of Elkab. 

in the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) it 
eclipsed the city of Nekhen (hierakonpoljs) 
on the opposite bank, becoming the capital of 
the third nome of Upper Egypt. Its massive 
mud-brick walls, dating to the Late Period 
(747-332 bc) and still largely preserved, 
enclosed an area of about 250,000 sq. m. Near 
the centre of the town are the remains of sand¬ 
stone temples dedicated to the deities NEKHBET 
and tiiotii, which date primarily to the 18th 
to 30th Dynasties (1550-343 bc:), but the orig¬ 
inal foundation of the temple of Nekhbet 

almost certainly dates back to the late fourth 
millennium bc. 

The rock-tombs of the provincial governors 
of Elkab in the New Kingdom include those of 
Ahmose son of Ibana (ek5), an admiral in the 
wars of liberation against the Hyksos rulers 
(cl550 bc), and Setau (ek4), a priest during 
the reign of Rameses hi (1184—1153 bc). The 
style of the early 18th-Dynastv wall-paintings 
anticipates that of the first New Kingdom 
nobles’ tombs at Thebes. 

In 1967 Paul Vermeersch discovered a series 
of well-stratified epipalaeOlithic campsites. 
Radiocarbon-dated to c 6400-5980 bc, these 



are the type-sites of the Elkabian microlithic 
industry, filling a gap in the prehistoric cultur¬ 
al sequence of Egypt, between the Upper 
Palaeolithic period (c. 10,000 bc) and the earli¬ 
est Neolithic phase (f.5500 bc). 
j E. Quibell, El-Kab (London, 1898). 

___ ‘L’Elkabien. Une nouvelle industrie 
epipaleolithique a Elkab en Haute Egvpte, sa 
stratigraphic, sa typologie’, CdE 45 (1970), 


p. Derchain and P.Vermeersch, Elkab, 2 vols 
(Brussels and Louvain, 1971-8). 


Painting technique, employing a heated mix¬ 
ture of wax and pigment, which was particu¬ 
larly used for the Fayum mummv-portraits of 
Roman Egypt (see are and hawara). 

enchorial see demotic 

ennead (Egyptian pesedjet) 

Term used to describe a group of nine gods. 
The earliest and most significant instance of 
such a grouping was the Great Ennead of 
Heliopolis, consisting of atum (the so-called 

Vignette from the Book of the Dead papyrus of 
Nesitanebtashru, showing three of the members of 
the Hcliopolitan Ennead: Geb, Nut and Shu, 
symbolizing heaven and earth separated by the sky. 
2 1st Dynasty, c.1025 bc. ( ea10554, sheet 87) 

‘bull of the Ennead’) and three generations of 
his progeny: his children shu and tkfnut, his 
grandchildren geb and nut, and his four great¬ 
grandchildren OSIRIS, ISIS, seth and NEPHTHYS. 
These nine deities participated in the 
Heliopolitan creation myth, whereby the sun- 
god emerged from the primeval waters of nun. 
E- Hornung, Conceptions of God in ancient 


Egypt: the one and the many (London, 1983). 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 41-5. 

E. IIornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 39-54. 


Poorly defined chronological phase between 
the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods, charac¬ 
terized in Egypt by a subsistence pattern mid¬ 
way between HUNTING and AGRICULTURE. In 
cultural terms, it was roughly equivalent to the 
European Mesolithic period. 


Since the definition of ‘erotica’ or ‘pornogra¬ 
phy 1 , as opposed to the honest portrayal of 
sexuality, is a culturally biased exercise, 
much of the possible erotic significance of 
Egyptian art and literature may well be in the 
eye of the beholder. The line between erotic 
art and religion is not easily drawn, particular- 

So-called 'Naukraticfigure \ from the Greek 
settlement at Naukratis. Ptolemaic period, c.300 
bc, h. 5.7 cm. (ea54893) 

ly in the case of the ancient Egyptian culture, 
in which sexuality and fertility were often 
important elements of divine cults, such as 
those of bes, HATIIOR and min. The so-called 
‘incubation chambers’ of Bes at Saqqara 
appear to have been rooms in which ‘pilgrims’ 
hoped to receive erotic dreams leading to 
greater fertility. The walls of the chambers 
were lined with figures of the dwarf-god Bes 
accompanied bv nude females. Similarly, sym- 
plegmata (pottery artefacts depicting entan¬ 
gled groups of individuals engaged in sexual 
acts) were clearly depicting sexual intercourse, 
but it is not clear whether they were purely 
erotica or votive in function. A relatively 
uncontentious example of erotica has surv ived 
from the 19th Dynasty (1295-1186 bc), in the 
form of the celebrated Turin erotic papyrus 
(Turin, Museo Egizio), which appears to 
portray the adventures of a comic character 
during a visit to a brothel. A number of ostra- 
ca also depict men and women engaged in 
sexual acts. 

The genre of love poetry appears to have 

flourished in the more cosmopolitan atmos¬ 
phere of the New Kingdom, when Egypt was 
exposed to new peoples and exotic ideas from 
abroad. The poems, written on papyri or 
ostraca and dating primarily to the 19th to 
20th Dynasties, seem to have been read out 
loud with musical accompaniment from 
harpists, and so might be regarded as a form of 
song. They would perhaps have provided part 
of the entertainment at the lavish banquets of 
the nobility, and were unlikely to have been 
spontaneous compositions. In such poems it 
was usual for the couple to refer to one anoth¬ 
er as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’, sometimes taking 
turns to describe their feelings of jov or loss at 
their particular romantic situation, or deliver¬ 
ing monologues addressed to their own hearts. 

Feasts and banquets in the 18th Dynasty 
often appear to have included elements of 
erotica, and both men and women are depict¬ 
ed wearing diaphanous clothing at such occa¬ 
sions, when they are depicted on the walls of 
tomb chapels. Their entertainment often con¬ 
sisted of naked or semi-naked dancing girls, 
some of whom may have been prostitutes. It is 
possible, however, that the erotic overtones in 
these tomb-paintings may have been deliber¬ 
ately intended to emphasize sexuality and fer¬ 
tility in order to enhance the potency of the 
funerary cult. Naked women, sometimes asso¬ 
ciated with cats and ducks, were often used as 
decorative elements on toilet objects, particu¬ 
larly during the reign of amenhotep hi 
(1390-1352 bc). See sexuality for a discus¬ 
sion of the possible relationships between 
erotica and fertility, including the production 
of so-called ‘fertility figurines’. 

J. Omlin, ‘Der papyrus 55001 und seine 
satirisch-crotischen Zeichnungen und 
Inschriften’, Catalogo del.Museo Egizio di Torino 
m (Turin, 1973). 

P. Derchain, ‘La perruque et le cristal’, SAK 2 
(1975), 55-74. 

M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian literature n 
(Berkeley, 1976), 181-93. 

L. Manniche, Sexual life in ancient Egypt 
(London, 1987). 

E. Strouhal, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 11-19,39-49. 

Esna (anc. Iunyt, Ta-senet, Latopolis) 

Site on the west bank of the Nile in Upper 
Egypt, 50 km south of Luxor. The main sur¬ 
viving archaeological remains are the sacred 
necropolis of the Nile perch (Lates niloticus ) 
and the Greco-Roman temple dedicated to the 
ram-god khnum as well as the goddesses 
NEITH and Heka (see magic), which was built 
on the site of a temple mentioned by texts at 
least as early as the reign of Thutmose ill 




Plan of the Temple ofKhnum at Emu. 

(1479-1425 bc). Only the hypostyle hall was 
excavated by Auguste Alariette, and the rest of 
the temple remains buried under the sur¬ 
rounding buildings of the modern town. The 
building was probably connected originally 
with the Nile by a processional way leading to 
a quay, traces of which, bearing cartouches of 
the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (ad 
161-180), have been preserved in situ. 
According to some of the inscriptions in the 
temple, there were originally four other tem¬ 
ples in the region (one of which was recorded 
by Napoleon’s savants), but none of these has 
survived into modem times. 

Important late Palaeolithic remains have 
also been found in the vicinity of Esna. 
Together with contemporaneous material at 
\aqada, Dishna and Toshka, they make up the 
main sources of evidence for the ‘Esnan’ lithic 
industry which flourished alongside the 
Qadan, Afian and Sebilian industries during 
the Sahaba-Darau period (f. 13,000—10,000 
bc). The remains at Esnan sites include grind¬ 
ing stones and sickle blades associated with the 
cultivation of domesticated plants, as well as 
the stone points and scrapers associated with 
hunting and gathering. 

S. Sauneron, Esna, 5 vols (Cairo, 1959—67). 

D. Downes, The excavations at Esna 1905-1906 
(Warminster, 1974). 

E Wendorf and R. Schii.d (ed.) Prehistory of the 
Nile valley (New York, 1976), 289-91. 


The accepted code of social behaviour and the 
distinction between right and wrong during 
the Pharaonic period both tend to be closely 
intertwined with funerary beliefs and cultic 
requirements. The concept of maat (often 
translated as ‘truth’ or ‘harmony’) w r as central 

to ancient Egyptian ethics, representing die 
original state of tranquillity at the moment of 
the CREATION of the universe. It was the feath¬ 
er of the goddess Alaat that was weighed 
against the heart of the deceased to determine 
whether he or she was worthy of resurrection 
in the afterlife. The so-called ‘negative confes¬ 
sion’ - a list of sins that had not been commit¬ 
ted by the deceased - was intended to be recit¬ 
ed in this ‘hall of judgement’ in order to 
ensure a successful outcome. 

A number of practical statements of 
Egyptian ethics have survived in die form of 
the sebayl (see wisdom literature), mainly 
written on papyrus and dating from the Old 
Kingdom to the Roman period (r.2686 b(:-ad 
395). The earliest of these documents describe 
the qualities required of a person in order to 
ensure success both in his or her lifetime and 
in the afterlife. Individuals were expected both 
to satisfy their superiors and to protect those 
who were poorer. From the second millenni- 

Two fragments of a papyrus inscribed with sections 
of the Instruction of Ptahhotep. 12th Dynasty, 
c.I900 hc, h. 15cm. (ml0371, 10435) 

urn bc, the code of ethics described in the 
sebayt was less worldly, tending to measure 
virtue more in terms of piety to the gods than 
in terms of material success. Sec also LAW. 

T. G. H. James, Pharaoh's people (Oxford, 1984), 

E. Stroui ial, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 31-4. 

execration texts 

Type of document listing places, groups of 
people or individuals regarded as hostile or 
inherently evil. These texts occur from the late 
Old Kingdom onwards and were inscribed on 
statuettes of prisoners or pottery jars, which 
were often broken and buried as part of a mag¬ 
ical process of triumphing over the persons or 
places listed. Most of the surviving examples 
were found in the vicinity of tombs at Thebes 
and Saqqara, but a large number were also 
excavated at the Middle Kingdom fortress of 
xVlirgissa in Nubia (including texts inscribed 
on a human skull), no doubt comprising mag¬ 

ical defences to back up the physical military 

The execration texts have helped 
Egyptologists to identify those who were con¬ 
sidered to be enemies of Egypt at different 
periods in their history, although the historical 
value of such lists is reduced by the tendency 
to repeat stock lists of names, which are often 
obviously anachronistic. Sometimes the names 


1 ic 

(vtitiiflLi nuUK 


ffitflif-sW , 


Line-drawing of an 'execration figure' consisting 
of a schematic statuette of a bound captive 
inscribed with a hieratic cursing ritual, one of Jive 
similar figures that are thought to have been found 
at Helwan. The text lists various Nubians and 
Libyans as well as two Egyptian rebels. 12th 
Dynasty, c.1920 bc, travertine, H. 15 cm. (CliRO, 
je63955, dr in \ by riciiard Parkinson) 

of the hostile forces are listed in great detail, 
while in other instances the enemies are the 
stereotypical ntnf. bows, the figure ‘nine’ rep¬ 
resenting three times three, which was the 
‘plurality of pluralities’, thus designating the 
entirety of all enemies. A related example of 
the magic involved in the execration texts is 
the ceremony of ‘breaking red jars’ as part ot 
temple ritual designed to ward off evil, the jars 
being the colour of blood. 

G. Posen hr, ‘Achtungstcxtc’, Lexikon der 
Agyptologie i, ed. W. Ilelck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1975), 67—9. 

—, Cinq figures d’envoutement (Cairo, 1987). 

D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in 
ancient times (Princeton, 1992), 87-93. 

R. K. Reiner, The mechanics of ancient Egyptian 
magical practice (Chicago, 1993). 

eye of Ra 

Term used to describe the eye of the sun-god, 


eye of ra 


which was considered to exist as a separate 
entity* independent of the god himself. The 
symbolism of the eye of ra, associated with a 
number of goddesses, was complex and 
diverse. In the myth identifying hathor as the 
eye she was regarded as having travelled to 
Nubia, whence she had to be lured back. The 
SKpMET version of the eye, on the other hand, 
took the form of a savage goddess who revelled 
in the slaughter of humans as the instrument 
of the sun-god’s wrath. These two versions of 
the eye were essentially the two sides of the 
personality of the goddess. The eye was also 
closely identified with the cobra-goddess wad- 
jyr, the divine personification of the ufaetis 
iiarel or nesret in Egyptian) which was worn on 
the brow of the king in order to spit venom at 
his enemies (see cobra). 

H. tf. Velde, ‘Mut, the eye of Re’, Akten 
Munchen 1985 m, ed. S. Schoske (Hamburg, 
1989), 395-403. 

eye-paint see cosmetics 



Ceramic material composed of crushed 
quartz, or quartz sand, with small amounts of 
lime and plant ash or natron. This body mate¬ 
rial is usually coated with a bright blue or 
green glaze of soda-lime-silica type. It was 
used from the Predvnastic period to the 
Islamic period; typical products include small 
figurines and amulets, architectural ornaments 
and inlays, vessels, and such funerary artefacts 
as silybti figures. 

The material was known to the Egyptians 
as tjehenet , the literal meaning of which was 
‘brilliant’ or ‘dazzling’. Like GLASS, which was 
introduced in the New Kingdom (1550-1069 
bc), its main purpose was probably to imitate 
gem-stones such as turquoise and lapis 
lazuli. Although blue and green are the 
most common colours, many others could 
also be achieved, and polychrome pieces 
were very popular at certain periods, not least 

during the New Kingdom when elaborate 
inlays and pieces of jewellery were being 
produced. Black decoration was sometimes 
added to monochrome pieces by painting in 

The technology for producing faience may 
have developed from the process of glazing 
quartz and steatite stones. The material is 
more properly called ‘Egyptian faience’, in 
order to distinguish it from the tin-glazed 
earthenware originally made at I'aenze in Italy 
from late medieval times. Because the bright 
colours of the Egyptian material reminded 
early Egyptologists of European ‘faience’ (now 
more correctly called majolica), they used this 
somewhat misleading name. 

The body material of faience was mixed 
with water and then moulded or hand- 
modelled to the required shape. Difficult 
shapes were sometimes abraded from rough- 
outs when partly dried, thus allowing very 
delicate pieces to be produced if necessary. 
Many hundreds of clay moulds for producing 
rings, amulets and other items of faience have 

Egyptian faience bowl from Thebes. New Kingdom. 





survived, particularly from urban sites such as 

Glazing was achieved in three ways. The 
first of these was 'efflorescence 1 , whereby the 
glazing material was mixed with the quartz 
body and effloresced on to its surface as the 
piece dried; when fired, this coating melted to 
become a glaze. The second method was 
'cementation 1 , in which the artefact to be 
glazed was surrounded by glazing powder, 
which bonded with its surface during firing. 
The finished piece was then removed from the 
unused glazing powder, which could be easily 
crumbled away. In the third method, known as 
‘application glazing’, the object was coated in 
slurry (or in powder of glazing material) and 
then fired. 

A. Kaczmarczyk and R. E. M. Hedges, Ancient 
Egyptian faience (Warminster, 1983). 

R Vandiver and W. D. Kinder v, ‘Egyptian 
faience: the first high-tech ceramic’, Ceramics 
and civilization ru, ed. W. D. Kingery (Columbus, 
Ohio, 1987), 19-34. 

P. T. Nicholson, Egyptian faience and glass 
(Princes Risborough, 1993). 


One of a number of birds which figured 
among the sacred animals of ancient Egypt. 
The falcon (Egyptian bik) or hawk was fre¬ 
quently regarded as the ha of IIORUS, the hawk¬ 
headed god and son of osiris (to whom the 
bird was also sacred). Excavations at iiier- 
akonpolis (‘city of the falcon’), the ancient 
Egyptian Nekhen, revealed a fine gold falcon 
head with two plumes and uraeus (Cairo, 
Egyptian Museum), which was once part of a 
composite statue. The Horus-falcon was the 
guardian deity of the ruler and is frequently 
depicted with its wings outstretched protec¬ 
tively behind the head of the king, as on the 
famous statue of the 4th-Dvnasty ruler 
KIIAFRA. It was also the falcon that surmount¬ 
ed the royal serekii, where it served a similar 
protective function, an extension of the role it 
seems to have adopted as early as the begin¬ 
ning of the Pharaonic period, when it was 
depicted on the palette of narmf.r. The bird 
was also sacred to the gods MON ru and solar, 
and occasionally also associated with the god¬ 
dess HATHOR. A falcon on a plumed staff w ? as 
one of the symbols of the west and the necrop¬ 
oleis, and the BA was sometimes represented as 
a human-headed falcon. 

At least as early as the Late Period (747—332 
bc) at saqqara there was a catacomb con¬ 
structed specifically for mummified hawks 
sacred to Horus. Recent examination of a 
number of these mummies has shown them to 
comprise a number of different types of birds 

of prey. Thus, the Horus-falcon image may 
have been regarded as interchangeable with a 
w hole range of other birds of prey. 

T.. Stork and H., ‘Falke 1 , Lex ikon 
der Agyptologie II, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. 
Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1977), 93-7. 

R. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art (London, 
1992), 82-3. 

false door 

Elaborate stone or wooden architectural ele¬ 
ment inside Egyptian tombs and mortuary 
temples, in front of which funerary offerings 
were usually placed. The false door, w'est- 
orientated and serving as a link between the 
living and the dead, was a rectangular imita¬ 
tion doorway which first appeared in tombs 
of the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc). The 
typical form of the false door evolved out of 
the ‘palace-facade’ external architecture of 
the mastaba tombs of the elite in the Early 
Dynastic period (3100-2686 bc), the external 
sides of w hich consisted of a series of alter¬ 
nate panels and recessed niches. The false 
door was effectively a narrow stepped niche 
surmounted by a rectangular stone slab-stele, 

Limestone false door ofPtahshepsesfrom his tomb 
at Saqqara. 5th Dynasty, c .2450 bc, h. 3.66 m. 
(f.a 682 ) 

usually carved with a figure of the deceased 
seated before an offering table and 
inscribed with the traditional offering for¬ 
mula and the name and titles of the tomb- 
owner. Some surviving false doors incorpo¬ 
rate a life-size relief figure of the ka (spiritu¬ 
al ‘double’) of the deceased stepping out of 
the niche. 

S. Wiebagh, Die dgyptische Scheintiir (Hamburg, 

N. Strudwick, The administration of Egypt in the 
Old Kingdom (London, 1985). 

M. Saleh and H. Solrouzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo: official catalogue (Mainz, 1987), 
cat. nos. 57—8. 

G. Haeny, ‘Scheintiir’, Lexikon derAgypio /<» rj e v , 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1984), 563—71. 

family see children 


Egypt’s agricultural prosperity depended on 
the annual inundation of the Nile. For crops 
to flourish it was desirable that the Nile should 
rise about eight metres above a zero point at 
the first cataract near Aswan. A rise of only 
seven metres would produce a lean year, w bile 
six metres would lead to a famine. That such 
famines actually occurred in ancient Egypt is 




The Famine Slele on the island ofSehel, south of 
Aswan. The rock hears a carved inscription which 
refers to a seven-year famine and purports to date 
to the time of the 3rd-Dynasty ruler Djoser, but 
actually belongs to the Ptolemaic period. 

(P. T. NICllOLSOSi) 

well documented from a number of sources, 
both literary and artistic. 

On the island of Sehel, immediately south 
of Aswan, is the Famine Stele. This purports 
to be a decree of Djoser (2667-2648 bc) of the 
3rd Dynasty recording his concern over a 
seven-year famine, which is supposed to have 
been eventually ended by the ram-god kilnum, 
who controlled the rising of the waters. In fact 
the text dates to Ptolemaic times, and may 
simply be designed to reinforce the claims of 
the temple of Khnum on Elephantine to tax 
local produce (although some scholars believe 
that it is a copy of an authentic document). 

That famines took place during the Old 
Kingdom is not in doubt, and the surviving 
visual evidence includes several fragments of 
relief from the walls of the 5th-Dynasty cause¬ 
way of the pyramid complex of UNAS 
(2375-2345 bc) at Saqqara. These reliefs 
depict numerous emaciated figures, their rib¬ 
cages clearly visible, seated on the ground and 
apparently weak from hunger. It has been 
argued by some scholars, partly on the basis of 
these reliefs, that the Old Kingdom 
(2686-2181 bc;) ended largely because of pro¬ 
longed drought and increasing desertification. 
The ‘autobiographical' inscriptions in the 
tomb of the provincial governor Ankhtifi 
(<"•2100 bc), at el-mo‘ai.i.a, describe how he 
saved his people from ‘dying on the sandbank 

of hell’; the phrase ‘on the sandbank’ (em tjes) 
perhaps refers to a low inundation and hence 
to famine. The inscriptions in the tomb of 
Hctepi at Elkab also describe a famine during 
the reign of inter ii (2112—2063 bc;). 

Prolonged periods of famine, caused by 
poor inundation, may indeed sometimes have 
led to political turmoil and helped to bring 
about a temporary end to the established 
order. The Biblical story of Joseph may itself 
have taken place during the Second 
Intermediate Period (1650-1550 bc), and it 
has been suggested that it was a HYKSOS 
king of Egypt whom Joseph saved from the 
effects of famine (but see also biblical 

The building of canals and irrigation 
ditches did much to alleviate the suffering 
caused by low 7 floods, but such stratagems 
were not always sufficient. At lean times peo¬ 
ple appear to have turned to the black market 
or to theft in order to feed themselves, and 
certain papyri indicate that the royal tomb- 
robberies of the 20th Dynasty (1186-1069 
bc;) may have been prompted by the need for 
gold to buy food during the so-called ‘year of 
the hyenas’. 

J. Vandier, La famine dans TEgyptc ancienne 
(Cairo, 1936). 

S. Schott, ‘Aufnahmen vom Houngersnotrelief 
aus dem Aufweg der Unaspyramide’, RdE 17 
(1965), 7-13. 

D. B. Rkdford, A study of the Biblical story of 
Joseph (Leiden, 1970), 91—9. 

B. Bell, ‘The dark ages in ancient history, i: The 
first dark age in Egypt’, American Journal of 
Archaeology 75 (1971), 1-26. 

W. Stevenson Smi th, The art and architecture of 

ancient Egypt, 2nd cd. (Harmondsworth, 1981), 

Farafra Oasis (anc. Ta-iht) 

Fertile depression in the Western Desert, 
about 300 km w 7 est of the modern town of 
Asyut. The smallest of the major Egyptian 
oases, it is first mentioned in texts dating to 
the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc), and by the 
19th Dynasty (1295—1186 bc) it was said to 
have been inhabited by Libyans. However, no 
archaeological traces of the Pharaonic phase of 
occupation have yet been discovered, the earli¬ 
est known sites being the settlements and 
cemeteries at Ain el-Wadi and Wadi Abu 
Hinnis in the northern part of the oasis, which 
date to the Roman period (30 395). At 
Ain Dallaf, on the northwestern edge of the 
Farafra depression, are the remains of a town 
of the early Christian period (c. AD 450). 

FI. J. L. Beadnell, Farafra Oasis (Cairo, 1901). 

L. Giddy, Egyptian oases, Bahariya, Dakhla, 
Farafra and Kharga during pharaonic limes 
(Warminster, 1987). 

Fara'in, Tell el- (anc. Pc and Dep, Per- 
Wadjvt, Buto) 

Cluster of three mounds (comprising two 
towns and a temple complex) in the north¬ 
western Delta, which was occupied from late 
Predynastic times until the Roman period 
(c.3300 bc-ad 395). In 1888 the site was iden¬ 
tified as ancient Buto by Flinders Petrie, and 
in 1904 C. T. Currelly undertook trial excava¬ 
tions. The site was subsequently not properly 
examined until the 1960s when the survey and 
excavations of Veronica Seton-Williams and 
Dorothy Charlesworth revealed Late Period, 
Ptolemaic and Roman remains, including 
cemeteries, houses, baths and temples. Textual 
sources have identified Buto w 7 ith ‘Pe and 
Dep’, the semi-mythical Predynastic tw in cap¬ 
itals of Lower Egypt. The Predynastic strata at 
the site were first located in the 1980s bv 
Thomas von der Way, whose excavations 
appear to have revealed a stratigraphic level in 
which Lower Egyptian Predynastic pottery 
types were gradually being replaced by Upper 
Egyptian Early Dynastic wares (see predynas¬ 
tic period). 

W. M. F. Petrie and C. T. Currelly, Ehnasya 
(Cairo, 1904). 

T. von der Way, ‘Tell cl-Fara‘in 83-85: 

Probleme - Ergebnisse - Perspektivcn’, Problems 
and priorities in Egyptian archaeology , ed. 

J. Assmann et al. (London, 1987), 299-304. 

—, ‘Excavations at r Icll el-Fara‘in/Buto in 
1987—1989’, The Nile Delta in transition: 4lh-3rd 
millennium BC , ed. E. C. M. van den Brink (Tel 
Aviv, 1992), 1-10. 




Faras (anc. Pachoras) 

Settlement on the border between modern 
Egypt and Sudan, which was first established 
as a small Egyptian fortress in the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) and continued in 
use in the 18th to 19th Dynasties (1550-1186 
BC) with the construction of five Egyptian 
temples. W. Y. Adams argues that the impor¬ 
tance of Faras owed more to indigenous 
Nubian traditions than to any military signifi¬ 
cance that it might have had for the Egyptian 
colonists. It continued to function as a reli¬ 
gious centre after the departure of the 
Egyptians, and during the Christian period 
(cad 600-1500) it was one of the most impor¬ 
tant bishoprics in Nubia. 

The episcopal cathedral (founded cad 650) 
and the bishop’s palace were discovered in 
exceptionally good condition when Polish 
excavators examined a large mound in the cen¬ 
tre of the modern village that had previously 
been erroneously interpreted as a typical strat¬ 
ified TEi.i.-site. Although the site is now sub¬ 
merged under die waters of Lake Nasser the 
Polish archaeologists were able to transfer 169 
painted murals from the cathedral to the 
museums at Warsaw and Khartoum. The 
stratified pottery from the site, as well as the 
paint-layers and stylistic development of the 
cathedral murals, have contributed significant¬ 
ly to the development of a chronological 
framework for Christian Nubia. 

K. Michalowskj, Faras i-ii (Warsaw, 1962-5). 

—, Faras: centre artistique de la Nubie chretienne 
(Leiden, 1966). 

J. Vantini, The excavations at Faras (Bologna, 

S. Jakobiei-SKI, Faras m (Warsaw, 1972). 

J. Kudin,ska, Faras iv (Warsaw, 1974). 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa (London 
and Princeton, 1984), 226,472-84. 

Sandstone block of decorative frieze from the first 
cathedral at Faras. 7th century id, f t. 25 cm. (t: l606) 

farm animals see agriculture and animal 

Fayum region (anc. Ta-she, She-resv, 


Large fertile depression covering 12,000 sq. 
km in the Libyan Desert about 60 km to the 
southwest of Cairo. The region incorporates 
archaeological sites dating from the late 
Palaeolithic to the late Roman and Christian 
periods (t\8000 BC—AD 641). Until the 
Palaeolithic period a vast salt-water lake lay at 
the heart of the depression, but this was grad¬ 
ually transformed into the smaller, fresh-water 
Lake Moeris, linked to the Nile by the Bahr 

Yussef channel. The earliest inhabitants of the 
Fayum were the epipalaeolithk: ‘Fayum B’ 
culture, which was succeeded by the Neolithic 
‘Fayum A’ culture in c.5500 bc. Traces of both 
groups were first found by Gertrude Giton- 
Thompson and Elinor Gardner in the north¬ 
ern Fayum. 

The region flourished from the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) onwards, when the 
Egyptian capital was relocated at Itjtawy 
somewhere in the region of ei.-lisiit, but most 
of the surviving archaeological remains date to 
the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, when such 
towns as Karanis (Kom Aushim), Tebtunis 
(Tell Umm el-Breigat) and Bacchias (Kom el- 
Atl) were at their height. 

K. S. Sandeord and W. J. Arkei.l, Prehistorii 
survey of Egypt and Western Asia: Paleolithic man 
and the Nile-Fayum divide (Chicago, 1929). 

G. Caton-Tiiompsox and E. O. Gardner, The 
Desert Fayum (London, 1934). 

F. Wendorf and R. ScHlLD (eds), Prehistory of 
the Nile Valley (New York, 1976), 155-61. 

E. Husselman, Karanis: excavations of the 
University of Michigan in Egypt , 1928-35 
(Michigan, 1979). 

A. K. Bowman, Egypt after the pharaohs 
(London, 1986), 142-55. 

fecundity figures see iiapy 

fertility figurines see sexuality 


The Egyptian religious calendar w r as punetu- 
Plan of the Fayum region. 




atcd by numerous festivals, often consisting of 
a procession in which the cult image of a deity 
was moved from one temple to another (usual¬ 
ly providing opportunities for ORACLES along 
the route). In the Festival Hall ofThutmose m 
(1479-1425 bc) at karnak there is a list of 
fifty-four feast-days in one year. A similar text 
in the mortuary temple of Rameses in 
(1184-1153 bc) at mkdinet habu lists sixty fes¬ 
tivals. Some of the most important national 
events of this type were the New Year Festival, 
the Festival of sokar, the Raising of the Sky 
and the Festival of the Potter’s Wheel, but 
there would also have been many purely local 
festivals associated with the smaller provincial 

Two of the best-known annual religious 
events were the Festival of Opet and the 
Beautiful Festival of the Valley, both of which 
took place at Thebes from the early 18th 
Dynasty onwards. The Beautiful Festival of 
the Valley involved an annual procession tak¬ 
ing the cult statues of the Theban triad 
(Amun, Mut and Khons) from Karnak to deir 
el-baiiri, which arc located almost exactly 
opposite one another, on either side of the 
Nile. A later version of this festival involved a 
more complex processional route via one of 
the mortuary temples that lined the edge of 
the cultivation on the west bank. A similar 
festival linked Luxor temple with the temple 
of Thutmosc in at mkdim.t eiabu (imme¬ 
diately to the northeast of Rameses in’s mor¬ 
tuary temple). 

The Festival of Opet also took place annu¬ 
ally (in the second month of the season of 
akhet ), lasting for a period that varied from 

two to four weeks. The main event in this fes¬ 
tival was the ritual procession of the divine 
images from Karnak to luxor, which is 
depicted on the walls of the colonnade at 
Luxor, built by Amenhotep m (1390-1352 bc:) 
and decorated by Tutankhamun (1336-1327 
bc). The temple at Luxor was in fact con¬ 
structed largely as a suitable architectural set¬ 
ting for the Festival of Opet. 

The divine images in their sacred barks 
were initially carried to Luxor overland, along 
a sphinx-lined route broken at intervals by 
‘bark-shrines’ or way-stations, within which 
the barks would be temporarily placed cn 
route. By the late 18th Dynasty, however, the 
divine images were taken to and from Luxor in 
a series of ceremonial boats. The religious pur¬ 
pose of this festival was to celebrate the sexual 
intercourse between Amun and the mother of 
the reigning king, thus allowing her to give 
birth to the royal ka (spiritual essence or 
double). At the culmination of the festival, the 
king himself entered the inner sanctum, 
enabling his physical form to coalesce with the 
eternal form of the ka, so that he could emerge 
from the temple as a god. 

According to the ‘calendar of feast and 
offerings’ at Medinet Habu, such festivals 
required the provision of amounts of loaves vary¬ 
ing from eightv-four in a standard monthly 
festival to nearly four thousand in the Festival 
of Sokar. Each festival therefore incorporated 
a ceremony known as the ‘reversion of offer¬ 
ings’, in w r hich the extra food offerings 
brought to the temple were redistributed to 
the masses. 

See also sed festival. 

G. Foucart, ‘Etudes thebaines: la Belle Fete de 
laVallee’, BIFAO 24 (1924), 1-209. 

W. Woi.f, Das schone Fest von Opet (Leipzig, 

S. Schott, Das schone Fest vom Wiistentale 
(Wiesbaden, 1952). 

H. W. Fairman, ‘Worship and festivals in an 
Egyptian temple’. Bulletin of the John Rylands 
Library, Manchester 37 (1954), 165-203. 

C.J. Bl.EF.KER, Egyptian festivals: enactments of 
religious renewal (Leiden, 1967). 

B. J., Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 205-17, fig. 71. 

Field of Reeds (Fields of Offerings, Fields 
of Taru) 

To ‘pass through the field of reeds’ was an 
Egyptian metaphor for death, since the ‘field 
of reeds’ was a term used to describe the 
domain of OSIRIS. According to Chapter 145 of 
the BOOK of the dead, it was here that the 
deceased would gather the abundant crops of 
emmer and barley; Chapter 109, meanwhile, 
describes the gigantic sizes of these crops. 

The field was so synonymous with fertility 
and abundance that the hieroglyph for field 
( sekhet) sometimes replaced the hetep -sign that 
was usually employed to denote the act of 
offering. Similarly, reed-shaped loaves of 
bread depicted on offering tables were occa¬ 
sionally portrayed as actual reeds, thus 

Detail of wall-painting in the tomb ofSennedjem at 
Deir cl-Medina, western Thebes , depicting the 
deceased in the Field of Reeds. I9lh Dynasty, 




symbolizing not only the offerings of bread 
but a general abundance of other offerings. 
See also funerary beliefs. 

L. Lesko, ‘The Field of Hetep in Egyptian 
coffin texts’, jfARCE 9 (1971-2), 89-101. 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 124-5. 

First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc) 
Chronological phase between the old king¬ 
dom (2686-2181 bc) and the middle kingdom 
(2055-1650 bc), which appears to have been a 
time of relative political disunity and instabil¬ 
ity. The period corresponds to manetiio’s 7th 
to 10th Dynasties and the early part of the 
11th Dynasty. It begins with the death of 
Queen Nitiqret, the last ruler of the 6th 
Dynasty, and ends in the reign of Nebhepetra 

According to Manetho, the 7th and 8th 
Dynasties still governed Egypt from the Old 
Kingdom capital, MEMPHIS, but the apparently 
rapid succession of rulers and the comparative 
lack of major building works are both likely 
indications of a decline in royal authority. The 
general lack of information concerning the 
political developments during this period also 
highlights the extent to which the knowledge 
of other periods in Egyptian history is found¬ 
ed on the evidence provided by the survival of 
elite funerary monuments. The presence of 
the pyramid complex of the 8th-Dynasty ruler 
Qakara Iby at saqqara suggests that Memphis 
at least lay within the control of the 7th- and 
8th-Dynasty kings. Although most of the 
rulers of the First Intermediate Period used 
the ROYAL TITULARY, it seems likely that they 
actually governed only a small part of the 

W. C. Hayes suggested that the pharaohs of 
the 8th Dynasty, perhaps lasting about thirty 
years, were the successors of the 6th- and 7th- 
Dynasty pharaohs through the female line; 
hence the frequent use of the name Neferkara, 
which was the throne name, or prenomen, of 
pepy ii. If there were, as the king lists sug¬ 
gest, about twenty-five kings in thirty years, 
they must either have reigned simultaneously 
or some of them must have been impostors (or 
perhaps both). This hypothesis, however, is at 
odds with the listing of seventeen names in 
cartouches in the abydos king list, since this 
list was part of the celebration of the royal 
cult; therefore theoretically only legitimate 
rulers would have been considered eligible. 

The 9th and 10th Dynasties may have last¬ 
ed for as long as a hundred years. They com¬ 
prised a series of rulers originating from her- 
akleopolis MAGNA, the first of these probably 
being Meribra Khety i (r.2160 bc). It is not 

clear where the seat of power lay during this 
period, and it is even possible that Memphis 
still continued to be the principal administra¬ 
tive centre, but the territory was largelv 
restricted to northern Egypt. The 
Herakleopolitan rulers came into conflict with 
the early Theban 11th Dynasty, beginning 
with Sehertawy intef i (2125-2112 bc). 
During this period the artistic production of 
provincial sites such as gebelein, ei-mo‘alla 
and asylt was flourishing, and the funerary 
inscriptions of the governors of these areas 
describe both their own achievements and 
their allegiance to either the Herakleopolitan 
or Theban rulers. Eventually the Theban king 
Mentuhotep u (2055-2004 bc) succeeded in 
gaining control of the entire country, although 
the lack of textual sources for the middle of his 
reign means that it is not clear whether he did 
so by the military conquest of Herakleopolis 
or by some form of diplomatic arrangement. It 
is noticeable, for instance, that relations 
between Thebes and Herakleopolis in the 
early Middle Kingdom do not seem to be 
characterized by any lingering resentment or 
hostility 7 . 

H. E. WiNLOCK, The rise andfall of the Middle 
Kingdom in Thebes (New York, 1947). 

B. G. Trigger, B. J. Kemp, D. O’Connor and 
A. B. Lloyd, Ancient Egypt: a social history 
(Cambridge, 1983), 112-16. 

S. Seidlmayer, ‘Wirtschaftliche und 
gesellschaftliche Entwicklung im Ubergang vom 
Altcn zum Mittleren Reich’, Problems and 
priorities in Egyptian archaeology , ed. J. Assmann, 
G. Burkard and V. Davies (London, 1987), 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 137-54. 


Fish enjoyed a somewhat ambiguous position 
in ancient Egypt: sometimes sacred, some¬ 
times scorned; eaten by some, denied to oth¬ 
ers. According to the Greek writer Plutarch 
(ad 46-126), when the body of the god osiris 

A polychrome glass Jish vessel, which would have 
been used as a container for cosmetics. 18th 
Dynasty, c. 1350 bc, from el-Amarna, 11.8 cm. 


was cut into pieces by seth his phallus was 
eaten by three species of Nile fish - the Nile 
carp ( Lepidotus ), the Oxyrynchus (Mormyrus) 
and the Phagrus. Despite this apparentlv 
inauspicious action, the Oxyrynchus fish was 
regarded as sacred at the town of that name in 
the Fayum region, since one tradition held 
that this fish came forth from the wounds of 
Osiris himself. In the tomb of Kabekhnet at 
Deir el-Medina (tt2) a fish is depicted in the 
position where the mummy of the deceased 
would usually be shown, apparently being 
embalmed by the god anubis. 

Various provinces of Egypt regarded par¬ 
ticular fish as sacred (see sacred animals), so 
that a fish which was taboo in one area could 
be eaten in another, something which is 
said to have led to occasional conflict. The 
Delta city of mendf.s was the principal cult 
centre of the goddess hat-mei iit, the ‘chief of 
the fishes’, who was worshipped in the form 
of either a fish or a woman wearing a fish 
emblem (sometimes identified as a dolphin 
but probably a Lepidotus fish). The Tilapia (or 
Chromis ) fish, with its colourful fins, and the 
ahdju (i.e. Abydos) fish, with its lapis blue 
colour, both acted as pilots for the boat of the 
sun-god ra, warning of the approach of the 
snake apophts during the voyage through the 

The Nile, the marshy Delta, the Red Sea and 
the Mediterranean coast are all rich in edible 
fish, and for the poor people of ancient Egypt 
these would have served as a substitute for the 
more costly meat. Wealthier people frequently 
kept fish in ponds both for ornament and as a 
source of food. It is known from records exca¬ 
vated at DEIR EL-MEDINA that fishermen were 
employed to provide some of the rations for the 
royal tomb-workers, and that temples also 
employed them to provide food for lesser ofifi- 




cials. However, the king, priests and the ‘blessed 
dead’ (see akh) were not allowed to eat fish, 
since it was identified particularly with the evil 
god SETii. In the text of the Victory Stele of piv 
(747-716 bc) the Kushite leader describes his 
unwillingness to meet all but one of the defeat¬ 
ed Lower Egyptian princes, on the grounds 
that they were fish-eaters. 

Fish were usually caught in traps or nets, 
some of which might be dragged along the 
river channel either by teams of men or 
between two boats; Chapter 153 of the book 
OF the DEAD, for instance, is concerned with 
helping the deceased to avoid being captured 
in a kind of trawling net. Fishing using hooks 
on a line is also recorded, as is harpooning 
from papyrus skiffs, although this was pre¬ 
sumably regarded more as a sport than as a 
means of subsistence. 

I. Ga mmer-W allert, Fisc he und Fischkult ini 
alien Agypien (Berlin, 1970). 

1. Danneskioi.d-Samsoe, ‘The abomination of 
the fish in Egyptian religion’, Karl Richard 
Lepsius: Akten der lagung anldsslich seines 100. 
Todeslag , ed. E. Frcier and W. F. Reinecke 
(Berlin, 1988), 185-90. 

D. J. Brewer and R. F. Friedman, Fish and fishing 
in ancient Egypt (Warminster, 1989). 

flail see crowns and royal regalia 


The fly was considered to have apotropaic and 
prophylactic properties, and stone amulets 
were being created as early as the Naqada n 
period (c.3500-3100 bc), already depicting it 
in the form that the hieroglyphic ‘determina¬ 
tive’ sign denoting the fly (aff) was later to 
assume. The image of the fly was also depict¬ 
ed on various ritual artefacts during the Old 
and Middle Kingdoms (2686-1650 bc), 

A pair of golden [flies of valour', a form of 
honorific award. New Kingdom, c. 1500-1250 bc, 
L-2 cm. (ea59416-7) 

Golden necklace ofAhhotep / with three pendants in 
the form of [flies of valour'. New Kingdom, c .1550 
bc, L (chain) 59 cm, (fly) 9 cm. (cairo, jf.4694) 

including the so-called MAGIC ‘wands’. 
Although the precise symbolism of fly amulets 
remains obscure, the iconographic signifi¬ 
cance of flies is best known during the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), when the military 
decoration known as the ‘order of the golden 
flv’ (or ‘fly of valour’) was introduced, perhaps 
because of flies’ apparent qualities of persis¬ 
tence in the face of opposition. Ahmose 
Pennekhbet, a military official in the reign of 
Thutmose i (1504-1492 bc;), records that he 
was awarded six of these honorific flies. The 
best-known example is a gold chain and three 
fly pendants from the Theban tomb of Queen 
AHHOTEP l (cl550 bc). In addition, the tomb 
ascribed to three of the wives of Thutmose iu 
(1479-1425 bc) contained a necklace adorned 
with thirty-three small flies. 

A. HERMANN, ‘Fliege’, Reallexikon flic Antike und 
Christentum vn (Stuttgart, 1968-9), 1110-24. 

M. Weber, ‘Fliege’, Lexikon der Agypto/ogie n, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1977), 264-5. 

M. Saleii and H. Sourouzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo: official catalogue ( Mainz, 1987), 
120 . 

C. Andrews, Ancient Egyptian amulets (London, 
1994), 62-3. 


A great deal of information has survived con¬ 

cerning the diet of the ancient Egyptians, both 
through depictions of food processing and 
consumption in their funerary art, and in the 
form of food remains from funerary, religious 
and domestic contexts. The poorest people in 
ancient Egypt seem to have subsisted on 
bread, beer (see alcoholic beverages) and a 
few vegetables, notably onions; according to 
the Greek writer Herodotus it was with these 
very commodities that the builders of the 
Great Pyramid were paid. Similarly, the 
OFFERING FORMULA, inscribed in Egyptian 
tombs from the Old Kingdom onwards, usual¬ 
ly included a request for ‘a thousand of bread, 
a thousand of beer... ’. 

Bread was made from emmer-wheat 
(Trilicutn dicoccum , see agriculture), which 
was laboriously ground on an arrangement of 
stones known as a saddle quern, replaced in 
Ptolemaic and Roman times (332 BC-AD 395) 
by the more efficient rotary quern. Stone- 
ground flour inevitably contained fragments 
of stone and occasional sand grains, which, 
judging from surviving human skeletal mater¬ 
ial, inflicted considerable wear on the teeth. 
Numerous types of loaf were produced, and 
some of these were made in moulds, especial¬ 
ly if they were intended for ritual use rather 
than everyday consumption. It was bread that 
formed the centrepiece of offering scenes in 
tombs, where it was usually portrayed in rows 
of long slices on the table. Similarly it was the 
loaf of bread on a slab that the hieroglyphic 
sign hetep (‘offering’) was actually depicting. 

Beer was usually made from barley 




{Hordeurn vulgare), and seems to have been a 
thick, soupy liquid, which, although not 
always strongly alcoholic, was nutritious. In a 
scene in the New Kingdom tomb of Intefiqer 
(tt 60 ) a child is shown holding a bowl and 
the accompanying lines of speech read: 
‘Give me some ale, for I am hungry’, thus 
emphasizing the nature of beer as food rather 
than simply a drink. Beer was also some¬ 
times sweetened with dates or flavoured with 
other fruits. 

Funerary offerings consisting of bread and fowl 
placed on a reed ojfering-stand. 18th Dynasty, 
c. 1450 bc, from Thebes, h. of stand 21.8 cm. 

The texts on ostraca excavated at the work¬ 
men’s village of el-medina indicate that 
the workers’ payments took the form of food 
rations. Although these men and their families 
were clearly more affluent than agricultural 
labourers, the lists of rations give some idea of 
the foodstuffs commonly available in the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 nc). Emmer and barley 
were the most prized items, since thev were 
part of the staple diet. Beans, onions, garlic, 
lettuces and cucumbers were among the most 
regular supplies of vegetables, but salted fish 
also formed an important element of the 
villagers’ diet. Meat was usually provided in 
the form of complete cattle from the temple 
stock-vards, or simply as individual portions. 
Outside Deir el-Medina, meat would have 
been regarded as a considerable Iuxurv for 

most Egyptians, something to be eaten primar¬ 
ily at festivals or on other special occasions. 

The wealthy would have eaten oxen, and the 
evidence from the Middle Kingdom 
(2055-1650 bc) pyramid-town of Kahun (ej.- 
lahun) as well as the New Kingdom ‘work¬ 
men’s village’ at ki.-amarna shows that pigs 
were raised for their meat. Hares, gazelle and 
other wild animals would have provided a sup¬ 
plement to the diet of poorer people, as well as 
providing hunting quarry for the elite. 

Animals were also used as a source of fat, and 
in order to provide milk for cheese making. 
Ducks and, from the New Kingdom onwards, 
hens were kept for eggs and meat, and wild¬ 
fowl were hunted for sport and food. 

Various fruits (such as dates, figs, grapes, 
pomegranates, dom-palm nuts and, more 
rarely, almonds) were available both to the 
inhabitants of the workmen’s village at Deir 
el-Medina and to the population at large. 
Grapes were also used in the making of wine, 
and there are numerous tomb scenes of vint¬ 
ners at work. Wine, however, appears to have 
been generally consumed by the wealthier 
groups in Egyptian society, and the jars in 
which it was kept frequently state its place 
of origin and year of vintage (see alcoholic 

Honey was obtained both from wild and 
domesticated bees, and, in the absence of 
sugar, it was used to transform bread into 
cakes and to sweeten beer. At Deir el-Medina 
it is recorded that confectioners were 

employed to prepare honey-cakes for the irano- 
of workmen. 

W. B. Emery, A funerary repast in an Egyptian 
tomb of the Archaic period { Leiden, 1962). 

W. Darby, Food: the gift of Osiris (London, 


D. J. Crawford, ‘Food: tradition and change in 
Hellenistic Egypt’, HA 11 (1979-80), 136-46. 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 117-28. 

P. T. Nicholson and I. Shaw (ed.), Ancient 
Egyptian materials and technology (Cambridge, 
2000). [chapters by S. Ikram, D. Samuel and 
M. A. Murray] 


The first representations of fortresses in 
ancient Egypt take the form of late 
Predynastic schematic depictions of circular 
and rectangular fortified towns, but the earli¬ 
est surviving archaeological remains of fortifi¬ 
cations are the roughly circular walls at two 
Early Dynastic settlement sites in L'pper 
Egypt: Kom el-Ahmar (hierakonpolis) and 

Egyptian towns were apparently only forti¬ 
fied at times of political instability, such as the 
Early Dynastic phase (3100-2686 bc) and the 
three ‘intermediate periods’. Military fortress¬ 
es and garrisons, as opposed to fortified settle¬ 
ments, were essential to the defence of Egypt’s 
frontiers (see BORDERS, FRONTIERS and limits). 
In the reign of Amenemhat i (1985-1955 bc), a 
row of forts, known as the Walls of the Prince 
{mebw heka ), was established across the north¬ 
eastern Delta in order to protect Egypt against 
invasion from the Levant. The same border 
was later protected by a number of fortresses 
set up by Rameses n (1279-1213 bc). 

During the Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 
bc) the area of Lower Nubia from the first to 
the third cataract, which had probably been 
peacefully exploited by Egyptian mineral 
prospectors during the Old Kingdom, became 
part of the Egyptian empire. A group of at 
least seventeen fortresses were built, mainly 
between the reigns of Senusret i and m 
{c. 1965-1855 bc), apparently serving both 
practical and symbolic purposes. On the one 
hand the} were intended to control and pro¬ 
tect the king’s monopoly on the valuable trade 
route from the lands to the south. On the 
other hand their large scale - perhaps dispro¬ 
portionate to the task — must have served as 
physical propaganda in an increasingly mili¬ 
taristic age. 

The designs of these fortresses, stretching 
from Aswan to Dongola, incorporate many 
ingenious architectural devices which would 
be more readily associated with medieval 


F OUNDATION deposits 


architecture. Ten of the fortresses (south to 
north: Semna South, Kumma, Semna, 
Uronarti, Shalfak, Askut, Mirgissa, Dab- 
enarti, Kor and Buhen) were constructed in 
the area of the second cataract where the Nile 
valley is at its narrowest. Although diev share 
manv common architectural features (such as 
bastions, walls, ditches, internal grid-plans 
and walled stairways connecting with the 
Nile), their various shapes and sizes were each 
designed to conform to differing local topo¬ 
graphical and strategic requirements. 

In the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), the 
Nubian fortresses were substantially rebuilt, 
but the role of the fortifications appears to 
have become much more symbolic. Temples 
began to be built outside the fortress walls and 
new towns were established with relatively 
perfunctory defences. Essential fortresses and 
garrisons continued to be built on the western 
and eastern borders of the Delta during the 
New Kingdom (such as the Ramesside fortifi¬ 
cations at Zawivet Umm el-Rakham in the 
west and Tell el-Heir in the east), and the 
Victory Stele of the 25th-Dv nasty ruler piy 
(747-716 bc) mentions nineteen fortified set¬ 
tlements in Middle Egypt. However, only a 
small number of fortified structures of the 
Third Intermediate Period (1069-747 bc) and 
Late Period (747-332 bc) have been preserved, 
such as the ‘palace’ of Apries (589-570 bc) at 
Memphis and the fortress of Dorginarti in 
Lower Nubia. See also warfare. 

D. Dim iam and J. M. A. Janssen, Second 
cataract forts, 2 vols (Boston, 1961-7). 

Y. Yadin, The art of warfare in Biblical lands in 
the light of archaeological discovery (London, 

A. W. Lawrence, ‘Ancient Egyptian 
fortifications’, JEA 51 (1965), 69—94. 

W. B. Emery et al.. The fortress of Buhen, 2 vols 
(London, 1977-9). 

foundation deposits 

Buried caches of ritual objects, usually placed 
at crucial points in important buildings such 
as pyramids, temples and tombs, from the Old 
Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period (2686-30 
bc). It was believed that the offering of model 
tools and materials would magically serve to 
maintain the building for eternity. The pits in 
which the deposits were buried, sometimes 
brick-lined and occasionally in excess of two 
metres in width, were generally located in the 
vicinity of the corners, axes or gateways. 

In the mortuary temple of the 11th- 
Dynasty ruler Nebhepetra Mentuhotep n 
(2055-2004 bc) at deir el-bahri, a series of 
pits marked the axis of the building. Each con¬ 
tained a loaf of bread, while the corners were 

marked with larger pits containing food offer¬ 
ings, including parts of a sacrificed ox and 
miniature vessels for wine or beer. The tops of 
these deposits were marked by four mud 
bricks, three of which contained tablets of 
stone bearing the royal titulary of 
Mentuhotep. The tablets were made from 
stone, wood and metal, thus symbolizing, 
along with the mud bricks themselves, the 
four principal materials used in building the 
temple. Other foundation deposits, such as 
those of Amenemhat i (1985-1955 bc:) at el- 

Reconslructed foundation deposit from the temple of 
Qiieen Halshepsut at Deir el-Bahri. n. c. / m. 
york, 25.3.39) 

LISHT, incorporated more bricks and a wider 
range of building materials, including faience. 

Probably the best-known foundation deposits 
are those from the temple of Hatshepsut 
(1473-1458 bc) at deir el-bahri. Fourteen 
brick-lined pits, measuring cl m in diameter 
and 1.5-1.8 m in depth, were each placed at a 
crucial juncture in the plan of the temple. The 
contents of the pits included food offerings and 
materials used in the construction of the temple, 
as well as scarabs, cowroids, amulets, traver¬ 
tine jars and model tools (such as crucibles and 
the copper ore, lead ore and charcoal for smelt¬ 
ing). The particular selections of model tools 
and vessels in foundation deposits can some¬ 
times provide insights into the technology of the 
Pharaonic period, while the study of the food 
offerings has contributed to the knowledge of 
ancient agriculture and diet. 

Apart from their ritual significance, these 
deposits have proved invaluable to archaeolo¬ 
gists from a chronological point of view, since 
they often include large numbers of plaques 
inscribed with the name of the ruler respon¬ 
sible for the construction of the building in 
question. The foundation deposits associated 
with a temple of Rameses iv (1153-1147 bc), 
near Deir el-Bahri, for instance, contained 
several hundred inscribed plaques. Many 
Late Period foundation deposits, such as 
those excavated at Tell Balamun in the Delta, 

have proved essential to the dating of temple 

G. A. Reisner, ‘The Barkal temples in 1916’, 
JEA 4(1917), 213-27. [comparison of 
foundation deposits from Gebel Barkal with 
those from Egyptian sites] 

W. C. IIayes, The scepter of Egypt u (New York, 
1959), 84-8. 

B. Lei ellier, ‘Griindungsbeigabe’, Le.xikon der 
Agyptologie n, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. 
Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1977), 906-12. 


The Egyptians referred to frogs by several 
names, the most common being the ono¬ 
matopoeic kerer. This attention to the frog’s 
call was extended to familiarity with its habits, 
including aspects of its life-cycle. As a result, 
it became a symbol of fertility, creation and 
regeneration. The image of the tadpole ( he ft - 
er) became the hieroglyph for 100,000 and is 
commonly found decorating the SHEN ring or 
the notched staff representing years, thus 
wishing the king a reign of 100,000 years. 




The deity most commonly associated with 
the frog was heket, the consort of the creator 
god khnum. Just as he created the human 
race on his potter’s wheel, so she often served 
as a personification of childbirth, particular¬ 
ly the final stages of labour. In the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) Heket was often 
shown on magical objects which were proba¬ 
bly used in the rituals surrounding concep¬ 
tion and birth. 

The connection of the frog with creation is 
also demonstrated by the fact that HEH, kek, 

Egyptologists to explore the complexity and 
gradual elaboration of this belief system, 
although far more research is required before 
the full nature of Egyptian views on the after¬ 
life can be understood, particularly during the 
formative period of the Predynastic, before 
the emergence of writing. 

The Egyptians believed that each human 
individual comprised not only a physical body 
but also three other crucial elements, known as 
the ka, ba and akh, each of which was essen¬ 
tial to human survival both before and after 

in both royal and private funerary texts and 

Just as the royal mortuary cult involved the 
transformation of the dead king into Osiris, so 
the funerary equipment of private individuals 
was designed to substitute the deceased for 
Osiris, so that they could re-enact the myth of 
resurrection and obtain eternal life for them¬ 
LIFE). In order to be assimilated with Osiris, 
however, the deceased first had to prove that 
his or her earthly deeds had been worthy and 

nun and amun, four of the eight members of 
the ogdoad associated with the Hermopolitan 
CREATION myth, were said to be frog-headed. 
Frog amulets were sometimes included in the 
wrappings of mummies, or carried as talis¬ 
mans. Even in the reign of akiienaten 
(1352-1336 bc), when most traditional reli¬ 
gious beliefs were discouraged, frog amulets 
were still carried, many being manufactured at 
Akhenaten’s new capital (el-Amarna). With 
the official arrival of Christianity in Egypt in 
the fourth century ad, the frog was retained as 
a Coptic symbol of rebirth. 

L. Stork, ‘Frosch’, Lexikon dcr Agyptologie 11 , 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1977), 334-6. 

funerary beliefs 

During the Pharaonic period, the Egyptians’ 
attitudes to life and death were influenced by- 
two fundamental beliefs: first, that death was 
simply a temporary interruption rather than a 
complete cessation of life; and, second, that 
eternal life could be ensured by various 
means, including piety to the gods, the 
preservation of the body through mummifica¬ 
tion, and the provision of statuary and other 
funerary equipment. The survival of numer¬ 
ous tombs and funerary texts has enabled 

death. They also considered that the name and 
shadow were living entities, crucial to human 
existence, rather than simply linguistic and 
natural phenomena. The essence of each indi¬ 
vidual was contained in the sum of all these 
parts, none of which could be neglected. The 
process of ensuring any individual’s enjoy¬ 
ment of the afterlife was therefore a delicate 
business whereby all of these separate ele¬ 
ments (the body, ka, ba, akh , shadow and 
name) were sustained and protected from 
harm. At the most basic level this could be 
achieved by bury ing the body with a set of 
funerary equipment, and in its most elaborate 
form the royal cult could include a number of 
temples complete with priests and a steady 
flow of offerings, usually financed by gifts of 
agricultural land and other economic 

The surviving funerary texts present an 
often conflicting set of descriptions of the 
afterlife, ranging from the transformation of 
humans into circumpolar stars to the continu¬ 
ation of normal life in an afterworld some¬ 
times described as the field of reeds. The 
identification of the deceased with osiris, the 
god of Abydos who was murdered by his 
brother seth and brought back to life through 
the efforts of his wife isis, played a crucial part 

Interior detail of the co/Jin ofGua, decorated with 
a map showing two different routes to the 
underworld (part of the Book of Two Ways). / 2th 
Dynasty , c. 1985-1795 BC, painted wood, from 
Deir el-Bersha, L. of coffin 2.6 m. (i:a30839) 

virtuous. Since the individual’s HEART was 
regarded as the physical manifestation of their 
intelligence and personality, the judgement 
scene depicted on many book of the dead 
papyri shows the heart being weighed against 
the feather of the goddess maat, symbol of t he 
universal harmony and ethical conduct to 
which all Egyptians aspired (see ethics). 

A. H. Gardlner, The attitude of the ancient 
Egyptians to death and the dead (Cambridge, 


A. J. Spencer, Death in ancient Egypt 
(Harmondsworth, 1982), 139-64. 

E. Horni ng, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 167-84. 

funerary cones 

Clay cones of 10-15 cm in length which were 
placed at the entrances of tombs, particularly 
those in the Theban area. They are first 
recorded from the 11th Dynasty (2125-1985 
bc) and continue into the Late Period 
(747-332 bc), although most belong to the 


funerary cones 


Funerary cone of 
Merymose, c. 1350 bc, 
pottery, from Thebes, 
h. 16.7 cm, d. 7.1 cm. 

Each tomb-owner had about three hundred 
identical cones, and the owners of many deco¬ 
rated tombs of the New Kingdom have been 
readily matched with surviving cones. 
However, there is no evidence of cones from 
over three hundred other known tombs. More 
significant, on the other hand, is the fact that 
no tombs are known for a further four hun¬ 
dred or so cones, suggesting that the tombs to 
which they belonged have been destroyed or 
re-used, or else await discovery. 

N. df. G. Day ii:s and F. L. Macadam, A corpus of 
inscribed funerary cones I (Oxford, 1957). 

H. M. Stewart, Mummy cases and inscribed 
funerary cones in the Petrie collection (Warminster, 

J. Kondo, ‘Inscribed funerary cones from the 
Theban necropolis’, Orient 23 (1987). 

also found in eight pyramids dating from the 
6th to 8th Dynasties (2345-2125 bc), com¬ 
prise some eight hundred spells or ‘utter¬ 
ances’ written in columns on the walls of the 
pyramid chambers, but apparently not 
arranged in any specific order. No single pyra¬ 
mid contains the whole collection of spells, 
the maximum number being the 675 utter¬ 
ances inscribed in the pyramid of pepy II 
(2268-2184 bc). The words spoken at the cer¬ 
emony- of OPENING OF THE MOUTH are first 

Part of the Book of the Dead papyrus of the royal 
scribe Ani, consisting of the vignette associated with 
Chapter 125, in which the heart of the deceased is 
weighed against the feather of the goddess Maul. 
19th Dynasty , c.1250 bc, painted papyrus. (ea470, 

New Kingdom and the bulk of them to the 
18th Dynasty (1550-1295 bc). 

The broadest end of the cone is usually 
stamped with hieroglyphs bearing a name, title 
and sometimes a short inscription or gen- 
ealogv. The earliest, however, are uninscribed. 
They were once thought to represent loaves of 
bread, roofing poles, mummy labels or bound¬ 
ary stones but current opinion suggests a more 
likely explanation. The pointed end allowed 
them to be set in plaster as a frieze above the 
tomb entrance, while the broad end would be 
clearly visible. It may be that this broad circu¬ 
lar end represented the sun’s disc, and was 
part of the solar iconography of rebirth. 

D. P. Ryan, ‘The archaeological analysis of 
inscribed funerary cones’, VA 4/2 (1988), 


funerary texts 

The Egyptians’ composition of texts relating 
to death and the afterlife probably stretched 
back to an original preliterate oral tradition, 
traces of which have survived only in the form 
of poorly understood funerary artefacts and 
sculptures. The earliest such writings are 
known as the pyramid texts, the first exam¬ 
ples of which were inscribed in the 5th- 
Dynastv pyramid of UNAS (2375-2345 bc:) at 
Saqqara. These texts, versions of which are 

recorded in these funerary texts, along with 
offering lists. 

In the political and social turmoil of the 
First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc;) the 
practice of inscribing funerary writings on 
private coffins developed. These private funer¬ 
ary documents, which were effectively com¬ 
pressed and edited versions of the Pyramid 
Texts, have become known as the coffin 
texts, although they were sometimes also 
inscribed on papyri or the walls of private 
tombs. They are often said to reflect a democ¬ 
ratization of the afterlife, whereby indi¬ 
viduals were no longer dependent on the ruler 
for their afterlife, perhaps as a direct result of 



furnitu re 

the gradual decline in the ambitions of roval 
funerary complexes. However, it might also be 
argued that, in their derivation from the 
Pyramid Texts, they simply re-emphasize the 
crucial role still played by the pharaoh in pri¬ 
vate funerary rituals. 

The Coffin Texts often included utterances 
forming ‘guide-books’ to the netherworld, 
known as the Book o f Two Ways. The ‘guiding’ 
function of the funerary texts became increas¬ 
ingly important from the Second Intermediate 
Period (1650-1550 bc) onwards, eventually 
culminating in the appearance of the so-called 
HOOK OF THE OK A o (or ‘spell for coming forth 
by day’), made up of around two hundred 
spells (or ‘chapters’), over half of which were 
derived directly from either the Pyramid Texts 
or the Coffin Texts. Such ‘netherworld texts’ 
were usually written on papyri, although cer¬ 
tain sections were inscribed on amulets. 

The netherworld texts comprise a number 
of related funerary writings, which together 
were known to the Egyptians as Amduat or 
‘that which is in the netherworld’. They 
included the Book of Caverns, Book of Gates 
and the Writing of the Hidden Chamber. The 
theme of all of these works is the journey of 
the sun-god through the realms of darkness 
during the twelve hours of the night, leading 
up to his triumphant re-birth with the dawn 
each morning. Many copies of these books 
have been discovered, often with elaborate 
vignettes illustrating the text. During the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) they were virtually 
confined to royal burials, although from the 
Third Intermediate Period (1069-747 bc) 
onwards they began to appear in private buri¬ 
als. They were frequently portrayed on the 
walls of the royal tombs in the valley of the 
kings, just as the Pyramid Texts had decorat¬ 
ed the funerary complexes of the Old 
Kingdom. Their placing is significant: for 
example in the tomb of Rameses vi (kv9; 
1143-1136 bc:) the Book of Gates is at the 
entrance to the upper level, the Book of 
Caverns follows, and in the lower level, fur¬ 
thest from the entrance, is the Book of that 
which is in the Netherworld. 

During the Ptolemaic period (332-30 bc) 
these ‘netherworld books’ continued to be pro¬ 
duced, including such remarkable texts as the 
Book of Spending Eternity and the Book of 
Breathing , which were apparently designed to 
protect the deceased and facilitate safe passage 
to the underworld. These later texts reflect the 
essential continuity of belief throughout 
ancient Egyptian history. The differences 
between the texts of different periods tend to 
result from changes in funerary practice, such 
as the shift from regarding the afterlife as being 

achievable only via the king to a situation in 
which individuals increasingly made their own 
provisions. There was also a gradual move 
towards the concept of righteous living as a 
qualification for the enjoyment of an afterlife. 
R. O. Faulkner, The ancient Egyptian Pyramid 
Texts (Oxford, 1969). 

—, The ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts , 3 vols 
(Oxford, 1973-8). 

—, The ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead , cd. 

C. Andrews (London, 1985). 

J. P. Allen, ‘Funerary texts and their meaning’, 
Mummies and Magic, ed. S. D’Auria, P. Laeovara 
and C. H. Roehrig (Boston, 1988), 38-49. 

E. Horxung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 95-113. 


The best ancient Egyptian furniture was beau¬ 
tifully made and elegantly proportioned, and 
it is not surprising that some of their designs 
were adopted for European furniture of the 
early nineteenth century (often with less suc¬ 
cess than their prototypes). By modern stan¬ 
dards, however, Egyptian houses, particularly 
those of the poor, would have had little furni¬ 
ture. The most common items were beds, 
chairs, stools and boxes (which served the pur¬ 
pose of the modern sideboard or wardrobe). 
Low tables were also used, two wooden exam¬ 
ples being known from Tarkhan as early as the 
ist Dynasty (3100-2890 bc). 

Various items of domestic furniture: a box of 
cosmetics, linen, a bed, a headrest, a jar and a jar- 
stand. New Kingdom, c.1300 BCfrom Thebes, //. of 
chest 6/ cm. (ea2470, 0526, 0039, 18190, 24708) 

The vast majority of the surviving furniture 
is made of wood, although at sites such as ki - 
amarna numerous limestone stools are found. 
Beds are recorded from the 1st Dynasty, and 
comprised a wooden frame, jointed at the cor¬ 
ners, and upholstered with matting or leather. 
Chairs were used only by the most wealthy 
people, and could be very elaborate. The 
length of the back support varied greatly, as 
did the standard of workmanship: the most 
elaborate could have elegant lion’s paw feet 
and might be inlaid. Most chairs are of a sim¬ 
ple ty pe with no arms, but throne-like ver¬ 
sions are known, including the famous exam 
pie from tutankhamun’s tomb (kv' 62), which 
is gilded and inlaid. 

Most people would have used low stools, 
and by the Middle Kingdom a folding stool 
had been developed. Some of these are finely 
crafted, as in the example from the tomb of 
Tutankhamun, the legs of which end in ducks’ 
heads, each grasping a rail in their bills. The 
Egyptians had a great facility for making such 
light or prefabricated furniture for use when 
travelling or on military expeditions. As early 
as the 4th Dynasty a complete travelling bed¬ 
room set, including a tent and carrying chair. 




has survived among the funerary equipment 
of Queen hktei»hkrks, mother of khufu 
(2589-2566 bc). A series of poles and rails 
make up a frame which could be fitted inside a 
tent or room to add extra warmth or privacy, 
serv ing as a sort of portable boudoir. 

The Theban tomb of the architect Kha 
(tt8) contains a representative range of New 
Kingdom furniture (now in the Museo Egizio, 

Wooden chair. 18th Dynasty, //. 73 cm. (ea2479) 

Turin), including a toilet box, a chair and a 
stand for a pottery vessel. 

C. Aldrkd, ‘Fine woodwork’, A history of 
technology i, ed. C. Singer, E. J. Molmvard, and 
A. R. Hall (Oxford, 1954), 684-703. 

E. Wanscher, Sella curulis, the folding stool: an 
ancient symbol of dignity fCopenhagen, 1980,). 

G. KlLLEN, Egyptian furniture, 2 vols 
(Warminster, 1980-94). 

—, Egyptian woodworking and furniture (Princes 
Risborough, 1994). 


The most popular board game known to the 
Egyptians was senel, the game of ‘passing’, 
which was played either on elaborate inlaid 
boards or simply on grids of squares 
scratched on the surface of a stone. The two 
players each had an equal number of pieces, 
usually seven, distinguished by shape or 
colour, and they played on a grid of thirty 
squares known as perm (‘houses’) and 

squares’, which is thought to have been intro¬ 
duced from western Asia. Although several 
boards have survived and it Ls known to have 
been played by two players using five pieces, 
the rules of the game, as with senet, have not 
been preserved. 

J. Vandier, Manuel d'archeologie egyptienne iv 
(Paris, 1964), 486-527. 

E. B. Pusch, Das Senet Brettspiel im Alten 
A gyp ten i (Berlin, 1979). 

T. Kendall, ‘Games’, Egypt's golden age , 
ed. E. Brovarski, S. K. Doll and R. E. Freed 
(Boston, 1982), 263-72. 

W. J. Tait, Game boxes and accessories from the 
tomb ofTulankhamun (Oxford, 1982). 

ABOVE Ivory-covered game box from the tomb of 
Tutankhamun, with ivory playing pieces and 
knuckle-bones. 18th Dynasty c. 1330 nc, /.. of box 
27.5 cm. (cairo, no. 593, reproduced courtesy 


ricji it Detail of the Satirical Papyrus, in which 
animals imitate figures in funerary scenes. A lion 
and an antelope are shown playing a game of senet. 
Late New Kingdom, c. / ISO BC, painted papyrus, 
ti. 9 an. (ea 10016) 

arranged in three rows of ten. Moves were 
determined by ‘throw-sticks’ or ‘astragals’ 
(knuckle-bones). The object was to convey 
the pieces around a snaking track to the finish, 
via a number of specially marked squares rep¬ 
resenting good or bad fortune. Sometimes the 
wall-paintings in private tomb chapels depict 
the deceased playing a board-game, but it is 
not clear whether this activity, when por¬ 
trayed in a funerary context, was regarded 
simply as entertainment or as a symbolic con¬ 
test intended to replicate the journey through 
the netherworld. 

A less popular board game was ‘twenty 


In an essentially arid land such as Egypt, the 
cultivated strip of the Nile valley represented 
an area of fertile green fields and watery irri¬ 
gation channels. This same lush vegetation, 
often accompanied by a pool, was a highly 
desirable asset for houses and temples too. 
Secular gardens were mainly cultivated for 
vegetables, and were set close to the river or 
canal, but by the New Kingdom (1550-1069 
bc) they had developed into more luxurious 
areas, often of a semi-formal plan, and some¬ 
times surrounded by high walls. 

Attached to temples there were often gar- 




Scene from the Book of the Dead papyrus of 
Nakht , showing the deceased and his wife Tjiiiu 
approaching Osiris and Maat in their garden. 19th 
Dynasty, c .1300 m:. (ea10471, sheet 21) 

den plots for the cultivation of specific kinds 
of vegetable; the growing of ‘cos lettuces’ 
(sacred to min) is frequently portrayed in 
reliefs and paintings. Similar small plots, made 
up of squares of earth divided by walls of mud, 
are known from the ‘workmen’s village’ at el- 
AMARNA, where vegetables may have been 
grown for use in the rituals performed at the 
chapels there. Ornamental trees were some¬ 
times planted in pits in front of temples, such 
as that of hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc) at Deir 
el-Bahri, where pits for two trees were found, 
unlike the whole grove of sycamore and 
tamarisk which stood in front of the 11th- 
Dvnasty temple of Nebhepetra mentuhOTEP n 
(2055-2004 bc). 

The houses of the wealthy often had large 
and elaborate gardens centred on a pool, 
which in the New Kingdom was sometimes T- 
shaped. Pools of this shape are known also 
from Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri, 
and the shape may therefore have had religious 
connotations. Such pools were stocked with 
ornamental fish, and served as havens for 
waterfowl. Flowers, such as white and blue 
lotuses (a kind of water lily), grew in some of 
these pools, and papyrus is attested in the 
pools at Deir el-Bahri. 

The provision of shade was an important 
element of the Egyptian garden, and from the 
paintings in the Theban tomb chapel of 
Kenamun (tt93) it is known that wooden 
columns were sometimes used to support a 
pergola arrangement of vines. As well as pro¬ 
viding shady arbours, trees were used as a 

source of fruit, such as dates, figs and dom- 
palm nuts. Grapes might be used for the pro¬ 
duction of raisins or even home-made wine. 
The sacred persea tree was grown in both 
religious and secular gardens. Nineteen 
species of tree were represented in the garden 
of Ineni, architect to Thutmose I (1504-1492 
bc), and among the most popular species were 
the pink-flowered tamarisk, the acacia and the 

Cornflowers, mandrakes, poppies, daisies 
and other small flowers were grown among 
the trees and, like the lotus flowers and some 
of the tree foliage, could be used in the mak¬ 
ing of garlands for banquets or other occa¬ 
sions. The pomegranate, introduced in the 
New Kingdom, became a popular shrub, and 
its flowers added to the colour of the garden. 
The overall effect would be one of cool 
shade, heavy with the fragrance of the flow¬ 
ers and trees; gardens are therefore one of 
the most frequent settings of Egyptian 
romantic tales. 

Unfortunately, given the aridity of the 
Egyptian climate, gardens required constant 
attention, not least irrigation, and representa¬ 
tions such as that from the tomb of Ipuy 
(tt217) show a SHADUF in use. The gardeners 
employed by temples and wealthy households 
had several responsibilities, including the 
watering and weeding of plants, as well as the 
artificial propagation of date palms, a process 
that evidently required considerable skill. 

G. Good and P. Lacovara, ‘The garden’, Egypt's 
golden age , ed. E. Brovarski, S. K. Doll and R. E. 
Freed (Boston, 1982), 37—9. 

J.-C. Hugonot, Le jardin dans I'Egypte ancienne 
(Frankfurt, 1989). 

A. Wilkinson, Gardens in ancient Egypt: their 
location and symbolism (London, 1990). 

gazelle see antelope 


God of the earth, whose sister and wife was 
NUT the skv-goddess. In the doctrine of 
Heliopolis he was the son of SHU (god of the 
air) and TEFNUT (goddess of moisture), who 
were themselves the children of atlm (see 

The offspring of Geb and Nut were osiri.s, 
isis, setii and nephthys, and these nine gods 
made up the Heliopolitan ennead. In the myth 
of iiorus and Seth, Geb acted as judge 
between them. Since Osiris was the rightful 
ruler of the world, and had been murdered by 
his brother Seth, Geb automatically favoured 
Horus, son of Osiris and avenger of his father, 
making him ruler of the living. The pharaoh 
was therefore sometimes described as ‘heir of 
Geb’, in recognition of Geb’s protective role. 

Scene from the Book of the Dead papyrus of 
Tameniu, showing an ithy phallic figure of the 
earth-god Geb beneath the sky-goddess Nut. Third 
Intermediate Period, c. 950 nc, painted papyrus 
from Thebes, H. (as cut and framed today) 9.5 cm. 


GE BEL el-arak knife-handle 


Geb is usually depicted as reclining on his 
side with one arm bent. As a god of the earth, 
responsible for vegetation, he was sometimes 
coloured green, and might actually be por¬ 
trayed with vegetation springing from him. He 
was also sometimes shown with the white- 
fronted goose, his emblem, on his head, 
although in some other instances he wore the 
Lower Egyptian crown. Isis, as his daughter, 
might be described as the ‘egg of the goose’. In 
funerary contexts he was a malevolent force, 
imprisoning the buried dead within his body, 
and it was in this context that he was often 
mentioned in the pyramid texts. Earthquakes 
were believed to be the ‘laughter of Geb’. In 
his benevolent aspect he was a god of fertility, 
sometimes emphasized by his erect phallus 
pointing skyward towards his wife. In the 
Ptolemaic period (332—30 bc) he became iden¬ 
tified with the Greek god Kronos. 

VV. Helck, ‘Rp‘t auf dem Thron des Geb’, 

Orient alia 19(1950), 416-34. 

I I. te Velde, ‘Geb’, Lexikon tier Agyptologie n, 
cd. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1977), 427-9. 

C. Traunecker, Coptos: homines et dieux stir le 
parvis de Geb (Leuven, 1992). 

Gebel el-Arak knife-handle 

Decorated ivory handle of a ripple-flaked flint 
knife dating to the late Predynastic period 
(r.3200 bc), which was purchased in 1894 by 
the French archaeologist Georges Benedite at 
Gebel el-Arak in Middle Egypt, and is now in 
the collection of the Louvre. Like the 
Protodynastic palettes and maceheads from 
ABYDOS and hierakonpolis, it provides impor¬ 
tant evidence relating to the early development 
of the Egyptian state. 

Both sides of the hippopotamus-tusk han¬ 
dle are engraved in a style which is thought to 
be Levantine or Mesopotamian rather than 
Egyptian. The decoration on one side consists 
of a depiction of several wild beasts, including 
the Mesopotamian or Elamite motif of two 
lions separated by a man. The other side of 
the handle bears scenes of hand-to-hand 
fighting between foot-soldiers as well as a 
naval conflict between three crescent-shaped 
papyrus skiffs and two unusual vcrtical- 
prowed boats possibly representing foreign¬ 
ers. The style of the Gebel el-Arak knife- 
handle constitutes part of the growing body of 
evidence for the influence of Western Asia on 
late Predynastic Egypt. 

G- Benedite, ‘Le coutcau de Gebel el Arak’, 
bond at ton Eugene Pint, Monuments et Memoires 22 
(1916), 1-34. 

J- Vandier, ManueltVarcheologie egyptienne l/l 
(Paris, 1952), 533-9. 

H. Asselbergi-is, Chaos in beheersing (Leiden, 
1961), pis xxxviii-lxi. 

A. L. Kelley, ‘A review of the evidence 
concerning early Egyptian ivory knife handles’, 
The Ancient World 6(1983), 95-102. 

Gebel Barkal see napata 

Gebelein (anc. Per-Hathor, Pathyris, 

The distinctive topography of this site, about 
30 km south of Thebes, is indicated by its 
Arabic name, which means ‘two hills’. The 
eastern hill is dominated by the remains of a 
temple of Hathor, the decoration of which 
dates primarily from the 11th to 15th 
Dynasties (2055-1550 bc), although the sur¬ 
vival of a number of Gerzean artefacts sug¬ 
gests that the much-plundered cemeteries 
were already in use bv the late Predynastic 
period. The temple of Hathor was certainly 
established by the end of the Early Dynastic 
period (2686 bc) and w as still in existence dur¬ 
ing the Roman period (30 BC-AD 395). Many 
demotic and Greek papyri have been found at 
the site, providing a detailed picture of daily 
life at Gebelein in the Ptolemaic period. On 
Gebelein’s western hill are a number of tombs, 
some of which, although much plundered, 
have been able to be dated to the late 
Predynastic. Most date to the First 
Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc), includ¬ 
ing the tomb of Iti, whose wall-paintings are 
now in the Museo Egizio, Turin. The remains 
of the unexeavated town-site are located at the 
foot of the eastern hill. 

G. W. Fraser, ‘El Kab and Gebelcn’, PS BA 15 
(1893), 496-500. 

G. Steindorfe, Grabjiinde ties Mittleren Reiches u 
(Berlin, 1901), 11-34. 

E. Schiaparelli, ‘La missione italiana a 
Ghebclein’, ASAE 21 (1921), 126-8. 

B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography v (Oxford, 1937), 162-3. 

II. G. Fischer, ‘The Nubian mercenaries of 
Gebelein during the First Intermediate Period’, 
Kush 9 (1961), 44-80. 

P. W. Pestman, ‘Les archives privees de Pathyris 
a l’epoque ptolemai'que’ SIndia Papyroligica 
laria (Pap. Lugd. Bat xiv), ed. E. Boswinkel et 
al. (Leiden, 1965), 47-105. 

Gebel el-Silsila (anc. Khemv, Kheny) 
Pharaonic and Greco-Roman sandstone quar¬ 
ries, rock-cut shrines and stelae on both sides 
of the Nile about 65 km north of Aswan. The 
quarries, primarily on die east bank, w'ere in 
use from the 18th Dynasty onwards, but there 
are also petroglyphs and graffiti in the cliffs 
dating back to the late Predynastic period 

View of the Gebel el-Silsila sandstone quarries. 

(i. SIIAW ) 

(f. 3400-3100 bc). Most of the shrines, includ¬ 
ing the Great specs of Horemheb, are located 
along the west bank and date primarily to the 
New' Kingdom (1550-1069 bc). 

B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography x (Oxford, 1937), 208-18, 220-1. 

R. A. Caminos and T. G. H. James, Gebel el 
Silsi/ah i (London, 1963). 

Gerzean see predynastic period 


Material consisting of a layer of fine plaster to 
which gilding was often attached using an 
adhesive, particularly in the decoration of car- 
tonnage. The term derives from the Italian 
word for a chalky substance used in preparing 
panels for painting during the Renaissance, 
although it can also be traced back to a term 
used for gypsum in ancient Mesopotamia. 


Necropolis located in the immediate vicinity 
of the southwestern suburbs of modern Cairo, 
where a group of pyramid complexes of the 
4th Dynasty (2613-2494 bc), comprising 
those of kjiufu, KIIAFRA and menkaura, are 
located. The Giza plateau cannot be regarded 
as fully explored, but the earliest know n mon¬ 
ument is MASTABA v, which probably dates to 
the reign of the lst-Dvnasty ruler djet (<\2980 
bc). The name of the owner of the tomb is 
unknown, although the presence of the graves 
of fifty-six retainers suggests that he or she 
w T as an important member of the Early 
Dynastic elite. Jar-sealings bearing the name 
of the 2nd-Dynasty ruler Nynctjer (r.2800 bc) 




500 m 

1 pyramid of Menkaura 

2 queens’pyramids 

3 rock-cut tombs 

4 mortuary temple of Menkaura 

5 valley temple of Menkaura 

6 tomb of Queen Khentkawes 

7 rock-cut tombs 

8 mastaba tombs 

9 tomb of Queen Khamerernebty II 
(wife of Khafra) 

10 valley temple of Khafra 

11 sphinx temple 

12 Great Sphinx 

13 mortuary temple of Khafra 

14 pyramid of Khafra 

15 subsidiary pyramid 

16 storerooms (?) 

17 tomb of Hemiunu 

18 western mastaba field 

19 pyramid of Khufu 

20 boat-pits 

21 mastaba-tombs 

22 queens’pyramids 

23 eastern mastaba field 

24 rock-cut tombs 

25 New Kingdom temple 
of Horemakhet 

26 modern village of 
Nazlet el-Simman 

27 tomb of Hetepheres I 



\ 14 / 


Plan of the Giza necropolis. 

have also been found in a tomb to the south of 
the main necropolis. 

Khufu (2589—2566 lie:) — whose father snf- 
fkru (2613-2589 nr.) had erected the first 
true pyramid - built the largest surviving 
pyramid, now usually described as the Great 
Pyramid but originally called ‘Khufu is the 
one belonging to the horizon’. It was con¬ 
structed from some 3,200,()()() blocks of lime¬ 
stone, each weighing an average of 2.5 tons, 
and it differs from most pyramids in having 
two burial chambers within die built struc¬ 
ture and a third unfinished chamber below 

ground. From each of the two upper cham¬ 
bers, narrow sloping tunnels were construct¬ 
ed; these so-called ‘air shafts’ probably had 
little to do with ventilation, and for some 
time it has been accepted that they may have 
some astronomical function. In 1993 a 
German team led by Rudolf Gantenbrink 
and Rainer Stadelmann, using a robot cam¬ 
era, discovered a scaled door in one of the 
shafts from the Queen’s chamber, which has 
led to speculation that a fourth chamber 
might be located there. 

It has been suggested that in the original 
design of the Great Pyramid there was to have 
been a subterranean burial chamber, but that 

this must have been abandoned at an early 
stage of the work, since it is only partly hewn. 
When first recorded the chambers were found 
empty, perhaps having been robbed as earh as 
the First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 uc) 
when the central authority, which had been 
responsible for their construction, collapsed. 

Like all pyramids, that of Khufu was part 
of a complex, of which the three subsidiary 
pyramids (the so-called queens’ pyramids) 
are the most obvious part. The temple on the 
east side is ruined, and the causeway leading 
to the valley temple has been robbed out and 
lost beneath the modern settlement of Nazlet 
el-Simman. Several boat-pits surrounded the 



0 100 m 

/Idov’e Sections of the pyramids looking west: 

Khufu: 1 descending passage 

2 burial chamber of the 1st plan 

3 ascending passage 

4 level passage 

5 burial chamber of the 2nd plan (‘Queen’s Chamber’) 

6 great gallery 

7 burial chamber of the 3rd plan (‘King’s Chamber’) 

8 weight-relieving rooms 

9 ‘air shafts’ (perhaps of religious significance) 

Khafra: 1 upper entrance 

2 lower entrance 

3 burial chamber of the 1st plan 

4 burial chamber of the 2nd plan 

Menkaura: 1 abandoned descending passage of the 1st plan 

2 burial chamber of the 1st plan 

3 descending passage 

4 burial chamber of the 3rd plan 

Section drawings of the three Giza pyramids. 

pyramid, and boats have been found in two of 
these. One has been reconstructed and is cur¬ 
rently displayed close to the site of its discov¬ 
ery. It has been argued that these boats were 
used in the funerary ceremonies, and that 
perhaps one of them bore the king's body to 
the valley temple. However, it is equally like¬ 
ly that they performed a more symbolic role, 
a s part of the funerary equipment provided 
for the travels of the deceased king with the 

Like the other true pyramids, at this site 
and elsewhere, the superstructure of the Great 

Pyramid would not originally have been 
uneven but covered by a layer of smooth white 
Tura limestone, probably crowned by gold 
sheet at the apex. This covering was stripped 
awav in medieval and later times. The burial of 
HETEPHERES, the mother of Khufu, lies just to 
the east of the pyramid and gives some indica¬ 
tion of the riches which might have accompa¬ 
nied a pharaoh of this period. 

Although Khufu’s immediate successor. 

The pyramids of Giza. The Great Pyramid of 
Khufu (left) appears smaller than that of Khafra 
(centre), since this latter is built on a slight 
eminence. The smallest is that of Menkaura. 

( t > 7: MtCHOLSOX ) 

Djedefra (2566-2558 bc), began to construct a 
pyramid complex at abu ROASil 8 km north of 
Giza, he may have been responsible for some 
quarrying at Giza, and some scholars have 
attributed work on the Great .sphinx to him, 
although this sculpture is usually assigned to 
the reign of Khafra (2558-2532 bc), builder of 
the second of the Giza pyramids. The sphinx 
is carved from a knoll of rock in a quarry 
beside Khafra's causeway, which leads from 
his well-preserved granite valley temple to the 
mortuary temple on the eastern side of his 
pyramid. Statues of the king, his head sym¬ 
bolically protected by H0RUS (now in the 
Egyptian Museum, Cairo), were discovered 
by Auguste Marie tie’s workmen in 1860, dur¬ 
ing the excavation of the valley temple (see 
khafra illustration). 

'I'he site of the pyramid itself is on a slight 
eminence; and for this reason, and by virtue of 
its still preserving some of its limestone casing 
at the apex, it appears larger than that of 
Khufu. In ancient times the monument was 
known as ‘Great is Khafra’, and is more typi¬ 
cal of Old Kingdom pyramid design, with its 

subterranean burial chamber. On the north 
and west sides it shows clear evidence of the 
quarrying necessary to level the site, the 
removed stone being used for the construction 

The smallest of the three pyramid complex¬ 
es at Giza is that of Menkaura (2532-2503 bc:). 
Unlike its predecessor, the valley temple was 
not of granite but finished in mud brick. 
However, it was here that a series of superb 

schist triad statues were discovered by the 
Harvard/Boston expedition in 1908. They 
represent the king with hathor, goddess of 
Memphis, and NOME deities. Like the pyramid 
of Khafra, that of Menkaura had its lowest 
courses cased in red granite, and like its pre¬ 
decessor had the chambers below the built 
structure. Unlike the other pyramids at Giza, 
however, ‘Menkaura is Divine' had palace- 
facade carving on its interior walls. This pyra¬ 
mid was the subject of SAITE interest in the 
26th Dynasty (66-1—525 bc), when a new’ 
wooden coffin was inserted. In 1838 the origi¬ 
nal granite sarcophagus was lost at sea while 
being transported to England, although the 
wooden coffin lid is in the British Museum. 

The pyramid complexes are surrounded by 
groups of mastaba tombs, in w hich members 
of the royal family and high officials were 
buried. The most extensive mastaba cemeter¬ 
ies are arranged in regular ‘streets’ to the west, 
south and east of the pyramid of Khufu, each 
tomb being of a similar size. The earliest pri¬ 
vate tombs at Giza are cut into the quarry- 
faces surrounding the pyramids of Khafra and 

During the New’ Kingdom there was 
renewed activity at Giza. In the 18th Dynasty 
Amenhotep n (1427—1400 bc:) built a temple to 
Horemakhet (‘Horus of the Horizon') near the 
Great Sphinx, and this was later enlarged by 




Sety i (1294-1279 bc) in the 19 th Dynasty. 
During the Third Intermediate Period 
(1069-747 bc) the southernmost of the sub¬ 
sidiary queens' pyramids in the Khufu com¬ 
plex was converted into a temple of Isis. In the 
26th Dynasty the pyramid of Menkatira was 
restored, the temple of Isis was enlarged and a 
number of tombs were constructed along the 
causeway of Khafra, an area which continued 
to be used as a cemetery as late as the Persian 

W. M. F. Petrie, The pyramids am! temples of 
Gize/i (London, 188.1). 

H. Junker, Giza, 12 vols (Vienna, 1929-55). 

G. A. Reisner and W. Stevenson Smiti i, A 
history of the Giza necropolis , 2 vols (Cambridge, 
MA, 1942-55). 

N. B arakat et al., Electromagnetic sounder 
experiments at the pyramid of Giza (Berkeley, 

M. Lehner, ‘A contextual approach to the Giza 
pyramids’, Archiv der Orientforschung 32 (1985), 

I. E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt, 5th cd. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 98-151. 


Although the glazing of stones such as quartz 
and steatite, as well as the making of FAIENCE, 
had been known since Predynastic times 
(^.5500-3100 bc), glass is extremely rare 
before £.1500 bc, and not certainly attested in 
Egypt before the late Middle Kingdom. 

It is possible that the craft of glass-making 
was first introduced into Egypt following the 
campaigns of Thutmose m (1479-1425 bc), 
when captive glass-makers may have been 
brought to Egypt from mitanni, where the 
technology was already available. Glass is cer¬ 
tainly one of the materials mentioned in lists 
of tribute in the Annals of Thutmose in at 
Karnak, and even by the time of Akhenaten 
(1352-1336 bc) glass was still of sufficient 
importance to merit inclusion in diplomatic 
correspondence. In the amarna letters the 
Hurrian and Akkadian terms ehlipakku and 
mekku were used, and these loan-words per¬ 
haps point to the eastern origins of the earliest 

A distinction should be made between 
glass-making from its raw materials (silica, 
alkali and lime) and glass -working from ready- 
prepared ingots or scrap glass (cullct). The 
first of these is considerably more difficult 
than the second, and recent analyses suggest 
that some of the earliest glass in Egypt was 
made using materials from abroad, so that 
either finished items or raw glass were import¬ 
ed for use by workers (captive or otherwise) in 
Egypt. It is likely that, even when the industry 
became better established, there were work¬ 
shops which worked only glass, obtaining their 
supplies in the form of ingots from more 
sophisticated installations. 

Perhaps because of an importation of 
craftsmen from abroad, there are no surviving 

Glass containers for unguents and cosmetics, all 
conformed apart from the gold-rimmed solid cast 
example on the left. The jug , which hears the name 
of Thutmose nr, is one of the earliest datable 
Egyptian glass vessels. 18th Dynasty, c. 1450 1336 
tic, l offish 14.5 cm. (e. 124391, 47620, 2589, 
55193, 4741) 

instances of trial stages in the making of glass 
in Egypt, which instead appears as a fully 
fledged industry. Consequently, technologi¬ 
cally difficult pieces, such as clear decolorized 
glass, are known from as early as the reign of 
Hatshepsut (1473—1458 bc) and colourless 
glass inlays occur in the throne of 
Tutankhamun (1336-1327 bc). 

As well as being used for inlays, beads and 
amulets, glass was used also in attempts at 
more ambitious pieces, including vessels. The 
latter were not made by blowing, which was 
introduced only in Roman times, but by core- 
forming. A core of mud and sand in the shape 
of the vessel interior was formed around a 
handling rod. This core would then be dipped 
into the viscous molten glass (or the glass be 
trailed over it) and evened out by rolling the 
whole on a flat stone (marver). The rims and 
feet of the vessels could be shaped using pin¬ 
cers, but the process was usually more compli¬ 
cated than this. Coloured threads were added 
to the base colour of the vessel (commonly 
blue or blue-green) so that strands of yellow, 
white, red etc. decorated the piece. These were 




sometimes pulled with a needle to make swag 
or feather patterns, and then rolled on the 
marver to impress them into the still soft body 

The finished vessel was then allowed to cool 
slowly in an oven in a process known as anneal¬ 
ing, which allowed the stresses developed in 
the glass to be released gradually. Once cold 
the core could be broken up and removed 
through the vessel opening. It was frequently 
difficult to remove the core entirely, especially 
in the shoulders of narrow-necked vessels, and 
the remains of the core often added to the 
opacity of these pieces, while those with 
broader necks appear more translucent. 

Glass might also be moulded. At its sim¬ 
plest this involved the making of plain glass 
forms, but it could also be much more com¬ 
plex, with sections of glass cane of different 
colours fused together in a mould to make 
multicoloured vessels, such as those with yel¬ 
low eyes on a green background, or the con¬ 
glomerate glass pieces with angular fragments 
of many colours fused into bowls. 

It was also possible to work glass by cold 
cutting. In this process, lumps of glass, some¬ 
times moulded to roughly the shape desired, 
were worked as though they were pieces of 
stone and so carved to shape. This is an 
extremely difficult process requiring great 
skill. None the less some fine pieces, including 
two headrests made for Tutankhamun, were 
produced in this way. 

Glass seems to have been regarded as an 
artificial precious stone, and like such stones is 
sometimes imitated in painted wood. Perhaps 
because of this connection it never developed 
forms of its own but rather copied those tradi¬ 
tionally made in stone, faience or other mat¬ 
erials. It seems that for much of the New 
Kingdom it was a costly novelty material, 
probably under royal control, and given as 
gifts to favoured officials. Until recently the 
production of glass was thought to have 
declined after the 21st Dynasty (1069—945 nc), 
not to be revived on any scale until the 26th 
Dynasty (664-525 bc), but J. D. Cooney has 
suggested that it persisted on a much reduced 
scale. In Ptolemaic times, Alexandria became a 
centre for glass craftsmanship, with the pro¬ 
duction of core-formed vessels and, in Roman 
times, items of cameo glass, probably includ¬ 
ing the famous Portland Vase (now in the 
British Museum). 

The best evidence for glass production 
comes from Flinders Petrie’s excavations at 
EL-amarna, where he found a great deal of 
glass waste, but there are still enormous areas 
of technology that are not properly under¬ 
stood, and excavations at that site during the 

1990s have produced new evidence based pri¬ 
marily on the detailed study of kilns. It seems 
increasingly likely that glass-making was car¬ 
ried on alongside faience production, and pos¬ 
sibly other pyrotcchnical crafts. As well as the 
remains at el-Amarna, there are glass-working 
sites at el-lisijt and malkata. 

B. Nolte, Die Glasgejasse im alien Agypten 
(Berlin, 1968). 

J. D. Cooney, Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in 
the British Museum iv: Glass (London, 1976). 

C. and R. H. Brill, Studies in early 
Egyptian glass (New York, 1993). 

P. T. Nicholson, Egyptian faience and glass 
(Aylesbury, 1993). 

goats see .animal husbandry 

god's wife of Amun (hemet netjer m Imen) 
The title of‘god’s wife of Amun’ is first attest¬ 
ed in the early New Kingdom in the form of a 
temple post endowed by ahmose i (1550-1525 
bc) for his wife ahmose nefertari. It later 
became closely associated with the title of 
DIVINE ADORATRICE ( dwat-netjer) which was 
held by the daughter of the chief priest of 
Amun under Hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc), and 
by the mother of the ‘great royal wife’ (see 
queens) in the sole reign of Thutmose m 
(1479-1425 bc), although its importance at 
this time was much reduced. From the time of 
Amenhotep m (1390-1352 bc) until the end of 
the 18th Dynasty there appears to have been 
no royal holder of the office of god’s wife of 

The function of the god’s wife was to plav 
the part of the consort of amun in religious 
ceremonies, thus stressing the belief that kings 
were conceived from the union between Amun 
and the great royal wife. The title ‘god’s hand’ 
was also sometimes used, referring to the act 
of masturbation by atum by which he pro¬ 
duced shu and tefnut. Atum’s hand was thus 
regarded as female. In the 19th Dynasty 
(1295-1186 lie), the title was reintroduced, but 
its importance was slight compared with earli¬ 
er periods. In the late 20th Dynasty, however, 
Rameses vi (1143—1136 bc) conferred on his 
daughter Isis a combined title of both god’s 
wife of Amun and divine adoratrice, thus cre¬ 
ating what was largely a political post. This 
office was from then on bestowed on the king’s 
daughter who, as a priestess, would have held 
great religious and political power in the city 
of Thebes. She was barred from marriage, 
remaining a virgin; therefore she had to adopt 
the daughter of the next king as heiress to her 
office. In this way the king sought to ensure 
that he always held power in Thebes and also 
prevented elder daughters from aiding rival 

claimants to the throne. The god’s wife was in 
fact the most prominent member of a group of 
‘Amun’s concubines’, all virgins and all with 
adopted successors. 

In the 25th and 26th Dynasties (747-525 
bc), the god’s wife and her adopted successor 

Granite statuette of the god's wife Anienirdis /, 
daughter of the Kushite ruler Kashla. Late 8th 
century bc, h. 28.3 cm. (f.a46699) 

played an important role in the transference of 
royal power. This office was sometimes com¬ 
bined with that of chief of the priestesses of 
Amun. Some measure of the wealth and influ¬ 
ence of these women is seen by the building of 
a ‘tomb with chapel’ by Amenirdis I, sister of 
King Shabaqo (716—702 bc) of the 25th 
Dynasty, within the temple enclosure at 
medinet habu. 

U. Holscher, The excavation of Medinet Habu v: 
Post-Ramessid remains (Chicago, 1954). 

M. Gitton, L'epouse du dieu, Ahmes Nefertary 
(Paris, 1975). 

E. Graefe, Untersuchungen zur Verwaltung and 
Geschichte der Institution der Gottesgemahlin des 




Arnun vom Begin des Neuen Reiches his zur 
Spdtzeil (Wiesbaden, 1981). 

M. Gitton, Les divines eponses de la 18e dynastic 
(Paris, 1984). 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 
1993), 149-56. 


That gold was a precious commodity in Egypt 
is undoubted, although it was outranked by 
silver when this was first introduced. By the 
Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 bc), however, 
gold had become the most precious material, 
and was eagerly sought. It is no surprise that 
the oldest known geological map is a diagram 
of the gold mines and bekhen -stone (siltstone) 
quarries in the Wadi Hammamat. The late 
Predynastic town at naqada, near the mouth of 
Wadi Hammamat, was known as Nubt (‘gold 
town 1 ), perhaps indicating that it grew rich 
from the gold trade. 

Gold was mined both from the Eastern 
Desert and from Nubia, where there are 
Egyptian inscriptions from Early Dynastic 
and Old Kingdom times (3100-2181 bc). New 
Kingdom private tombs, such as that of 
Sobekhotep (tt63), sometimes include depic¬ 
tions of Nubians bringing gold as tribute. 
During the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) it 
was obtained also from Syria-Palestine by way 
of tribute, despite the fact that Egypt was 
already much richer in gold than the 
Levantine city-states. The Egyptians’ prodi¬ 
gious wealth in gold made them the envy of 
their neighbours in the Near East, and finds 
frequent mention in the amarna letters. For 
example letter ea19 from Tushratta of Mitanni 
reads: ‘May my brother send me in very great 
quantities gold that has not been worked, and 
may my brother send me much more gold than 
he did to my father. In my brother’s country 
gold is as plentiful as dirt ... 1 

Mining and quarrying expeditions were 
carried out under military control, and many 
of the labourers were convicts (see STONE and 
quarrying). The laborious and dangerous 
work may have ensured that for many it was a 
death sentence. The gold-bearing rock had to 
be laboriously crushed and washed to extract 
the metal which was then carried off for refin¬ 
ing and working. 

Gold was regarded as the flesh of RA and the 
other gods, a divine metal that never tar¬ 
nished. As such it was used in the making of 

right Part of a floral collar formed from gold, 
cornelian and blue glass inlaid elements, which 
illustrates the use of the cloisonne technique of 
goldworking. New Kingdom, c. 1370-1300 bc, 
ft. (as strung) 12.2 cm. (ea3074) 

images of the god, or as gilt for divine statues; 
it also adorned temples and the pyramidions 
surmounting obelisks and pyramids. The 
ROYAL TITULARY included the ‘Golden Horus’ 
name, associating the king with the sun, while 
the goddess Hathor was sometimes described 
as ‘the golden one’. 

This connection with the gods made it the 
ideal metal in funerary contexts, as spectacu¬ 
larly witnessed by the mask and coffins of 
Tutankhamun (1336-1327 bc), although lesser 
individuals aspired to gilded or yellow-painted 
masks. The sarcophagus chamber in the royal 
tomb was known as the ‘house of gold 1 , while 
at the ends of sarcophagi or coffins isis and 
NEPHTHYS were often shown kneeling on the 
hieroglyphic sign for gold ( nebw ). In the 5th- 
Dynastv tomb of Iv-Mery at Giza (g6020) an 

LEFT Copy of part of the 'Turin mining papyrus' 
the earliest surviving geological map, which 
documents a quarrying expedition in the vicinity of 
a gold-mining settlement in the Wadi Hammamat 
Reign of Rameses n, c.l153-1147 bc. (ran v, 
MUSEO EG IZto, CAT.1879) 

BELOW Part of a wall-painting from the tomb- 
chapel of Sobekhotep (vr63), showing Nubians 
presenting gold as tribute to the Egyptian king The 
gold has been cast into rings for ease of transport. 
18th Dynasty, c.l 400 bc, from Thebes, (f. \ ( )21) 

inscription points out that the shape of the 
nebw sign was being imitated by pairs of 
dancers in the funerary dance known as the 

In times of unrest the golden funerary 
equipment acted as a lure for tomb-robbers, 
as recorded in Papyrus Abbot which deals with 
the desecration of the tomb of King Sobkem- 
saf ii of the 17th Dynasty (1650-1550 bc): 




‘We opened their sarcophagi and their 
coffins... and found the noble mummy of this 
King equipped with a falchion [curved sword] 
... amulets and jewels of gold were upon his 
neck, and his headpiece of gold was upon him. 
The noble mummy of this King was com¬ 
pletely bedecked with gold, and his coffins 
were adorned with gold ... We collected the 
gold we found on the mummy of this god ... 
and we set fire to their coffins ... ’ 

Gold could also serve the li\ing, and the 
material melted down by the robbers would 
have been used in exchanges, since there was 
no actual coinage. The high value of gold made 
it a suitable reward for eminent individuals, 
and there are representations of favoured New 
Kingdom officials such as Maya and 
Horkmheb being rewarded with golden collars 
by the pharaoh. There are many surviving 
examples of the ‘fi.y of valour’, a military hon¬ 
our usually made of gold. 

The gold of ancient Egypt became leg¬ 
endary and eventually passed into medieval 
folklore. With the discovery of the tomb of 
Tutankhamun, the imagination of the twenti¬ 
eth-century press became particular!) 
obsessed with the ‘gold of the pharaohs’, often 
at the expense of discoveries that are archaeo- 
logically more significant. 

J. Cerxy, ‘Prices and wages in Egypt in the 
Ramcssidc period’, Cahiers d'Histoire Mnndiale i 
(1954), 903-21. 

R. Klemm and D. D. Klemm, ‘Chronologischer 
Abriss der antiken Goldgewinnung in dcr 
Ostwiiste Agyptens’, MDA1K 50 (1994), 29-35. 

great green (Egyptian wadj wer) 

Term used to refer to a fecundity figure (see 
iiapy) who appears to have personified either 
the lakes within the Nile Delta or the 
Mediterranean sea. The latter interpretation is 
a matter of considerable debate; it has been 
pointed out, for instance, that certain texts 
(such as Papyrus Ramesseum vi) describe the 
crossing of the ‘great green’ by foot, and other 
documents use a determinative sign for the 
term that suggests dry land rather than water. 
J. Baines, Fecundity figures: Egyptian 
personification and the iconology of a genre 
(Warminster, 1986). 

C. Vanderslevkn, ‘Lc sens de Ouadj-Our (WV- 
Wr)’, Ah ten Miinchen I 985 1 \, ed. S. Schoske 
(Hamburg, 1991), 345-52. 

great royal wife see queens 


Egypt did not develop close contacts with 

Copy of a wall-painting from the tomb of 
Menkhcperraseneb at Thebes , showing foreign rulers 
from the Aegean and the Near East bringing tribute 
to the pharaoh. The prostrate figure on the left is 
described as the 'chief of the Keftiw ' (usually 
assumed to be a reference to Crete) and the figure on 
the Jar right wears Aegean clothing and carries a 
Minoan-style bull's head. 18th Dynasty, c. 1450 BC. 

Greece until well into the Pharaonic period, 
although various economic and political links 
gradually developed over the centuries. By the 
12th Dynasty' (1985-1795 uc) the tod treasure 
shows Greek influence, but it was in the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 tsc) that contacts become 
most clear. In Egyptian tombs of 1500-1440 bo 
there are representations of cups of the type 
found at Vapheio in mainland Greece, which 
were brought to Thebes as tribute by Cretans. 
Paintings in the tomb of Senenmut (tt71 ) show 
not only a giant Vapheio cup but also a bull¬ 
headed rhyton, while Cretans are also shown in 
the tomb of Menkheperraseneb (tt86). It may 
be that Cretans and other Greeks visited Egypt 
during this time and took away with them 
notions of Egyptian architecture, since some 
Minoan frescos portray papyrus columns. The 
goddess taweret was modified to become the 
so-called Cretan ‘genius’, losing her hippopota- 




under ALEXANDER THE GREAT (332-323 BC) 

mus form until she more closely resembled a 
donkey. Ihoth, in his baboon manifestation, 
was also imported into Crete. Similarly, 
Mycenaean pottery reached Egypt in the New 
Kingdom, perhaps as containers for a particu¬ 
lar valued commodity, and has been found in 
large quantities at sites such as EL-AMARNA. 
Cyprus was also important as a source of cop¬ 
per, imported as ox-hide ingots. Certain resins 
may also have been imported from Cyprus (and 
elsewhere in Greece) and Cypriot pottery is 
also attested in Egypt. 

Psamtek i (66*1—610 nc) allowed Greeks 
from Miletus to found a commercial centre at 
naukratis, and under Ahmose u (570-526 bc.) 
their trade was limited to this city. The 
Egyptians levied a duty on commerce there, 
and this was sent to the temple of Neith at 
sais. 1 he city struck its own coinage, the only 
type of coin known from Pharaonic Egypt. 

Mercenary soldiers, including some from 
the Mediterranean, had been used increasing¬ 
ly from the New Kingdom, but bv the saite 
period (664-525 bc) Egypt had come to 
depend ever more heavily on Greek mercenary 
troops, who were settled in Memphis. The ris¬ 
ing power of PERSIA inevitably led to the con¬ 
quest of Egypt in 525 bc, making Egypt a nat¬ 
ural ally of the Greek city-states. In 465 bc, 
following the death of Xerxes r (486-465 bc;), 
there was a revolt by Psamtek of Sais, and with 
Athenian help he besieged the Persians at 
Memphis, although he was eventually killed in 
454 bc. Through the last decades of the fifth 
century bc, his supporters survived in the 
Delta marshes, retaining their contacts with 
Athens. It was at some time during this period 
that the Greek historian fierodotls made his 
visit to Egypt, recording recent political 
events and local curiosities. 

In 405 bc Darius u of Persia (42T405 bc;) 
died and in the following year Amyrtaios 
(404-399 bc) seized power in Egypt, beeoming 
the only ruler of the 28th Dynasty. Egypt had 
been drawn ever more into the Greek world, 
and Nepherites I (399-393 bc;) supported the 
Cypriots against the Persians. Later, revolts in 
Persia led Teos (362—360 bc;) to attempt to 
regain those provinces that had been lost; in this 
campaign he depended heavily on the Greek 
mercenaries provided by the Spartan king 
Agesilaus and the Athenian admiral Chabrias. 

4 he power of the Greek mercenaries at this time 
is indicated by the fact that a subsequent revolt 
in favour of Nectanebo ii (360-343 bc), nephew 
of Teos, succeeded primarily because of the sup¬ 
port of Agesilaus. In 343 bc the Persians 
attacked again, but the Greek mercenaries were 
once more disloyal, and Egypt fell. 

It was the coming of Macedonian Greeks 

ousting the Persians in 332 bc, that brought 
Egypt fully into the Hellenistic world. New 
cities such as Alexandria and Ptolemais were 
established and settled by Greeks, while the 
FAYUM region became an important agricul¬ 
tural centre. Greek was adopted as the official 
language, and numerous papyri of the period 
have been discovered at oxvrynchus and else¬ 
where. 4 his mixing of Greeks and Egyptians 
led to new artistic developments, with tradi¬ 
tional subjects depicted in innovative wavs, as 
in the scenes from the tomb of petqsiris at 
Tuna el-Gebel. 

The Greeks, and through them the 
Romans, held Egypt in high regard as a font of 
ancient wisdom, and in this way Egyptian civ¬ 
ilization exerted a strong influence on the 
Classical world. The ancient Greek konros- 
figures, for example, derived their characteris¬ 
tic appearance from the Greeks’ observation of 

Plan of Gurob. 

Egyptian statues. The roots of western civi¬ 
lization owe considerably more to Egypt than 
is commonly realized. 

H.-J. Thisskn, ‘Griechen in Agyptcn’, Lexikon 
der Agyptologie m, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1977), 898-903. 

B. J. Kemp and R. Merrii.ees, Minoan pottery 
from second millennium Egypt (Mainz, 1981). 

A. K. Bowman, Egypt after the pharaohs 
(London, 1986). 

N. Lewis, Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt (Oxford, 

D. J. Thompson, Memphis under the Ptolemies 
(Princeton, 1988). 

Gurob (Mcdinet el-Ghurob; anc. Mi-wer) 
Settlement site at the southeastern end of the 
Fayum region, occupied from the early 18rh 
Dynasty until at least the time of Rameses v 




(1147-1143 bc). Excavated between 1888 and 
1920, Gurob has been identified with the town 
of Mi-wer, which was established by 
Thutmose m (1479-1425 bc:) as a royal harim, 
and appears to have flourished in the reign of 
Amenhotep in (1390-1352 bc). Flinders Petrie 
excavated part of the New Kingdom town, as 
well as a building identified as a temple, and 
cemeteries dating to the New Kingdom and 
the Ptolemaic period (332-30 bc). The work of 
subsequent British archaeologists concentrat¬ 
ed primarily on the cemeteries and temple, 
although W. L. S. Loat mentions the remains 
of a small 18th-Dynasty village close to a for¬ 
tified building, which may have been an early 
New Kingdom settlement similar to that 
beside the South Palace at deir 

In 1905 the town was examined by the 
German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, 
who suggested that the main enclosure-wall 
contained not a temple - as Petrie had argued 
- but a late 18th-Dynastv palace and harim as 
well as the town itself. More recently, Barry 
Kemp has synthesized the results of the vari¬ 
ous excavations to construct an impression of 
the New Kingdom harim- town which must 
have superseded the earlier village. The main 
town, contained within an enclosure wall and 
divided into three blocks (each with its own 
enclosure walls and gateways), appears to focus 
on a central limestone building, dating to the 
reign of Thutmose nt, which was eventually 
dismantled by Rameses n (1279-1213 bc). 

Many of the finds from the town are in the 
collection of the Petrie Museum, London, 
and have been catalogued in the course of a 
reassessment of the site as a whole. It might be 
argued that the combination of artefactual 
material from town, temple and cemeteries 
constitutes a more representative set of evi¬ 
dence than the material at the better- 
documented and better-preserved urban site 
of el-amarna, which includes very few arte¬ 
facts from funerary contexts. 

W. M. F. Petrie, Kahun, Gurob ami Hawara 
(London, 1890). 

—, Ilia bun, Kahun ami Gurob (London, 1891). 

W. L. S. Loat, Gurob (London, 1905). 

L. Borci iardt, Der Porlrdlkopf der Konigin Teje: 
■dasgrabimgen der Deutschen Orienl-Gesellschaft in 
Tellel-Amama i (Leipzig, 1911). 

G. Brunton and R. Engelbacii, Gurob (London, 

J. Kemp, ‘The harim-palace at Mcdinet el- 
Ghurab’, ZAS 15 (1978), 122-33. 

A. P Thomas, Gurob: a New Kingdom town , 

2 vols (Warminster, 1981). 



The style, presence or absence of hair were all 
of great importance to the Egyptians, not only 
as a matter of personal appearance but also as 
symbols or indications of status. The ael of 
ritual humiliation and subjection was demon¬ 
strated by the king’s action of seizing his 
enemies by the hair before smiting them. 

The Egyptians took great care of their hair, 
and w ere concerned to avoid greying and bald¬ 
ness, judging from the survival of texts includ¬ 
ing remedies for these conditions, none of 
w hich seems likely to have been very effective. 
Nevertheless, hair was usually washed and 
scented, and wealthy individuals employed 
hairdressers. The 11 th-Dynasty sarcophagus 
of Queen Kawit from Deir el-Bahri (r.2040 bc; 
now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo) shows 
such a hairdresser at work. Children wore 

their hair at the side of the head sometimes as 
one or two tresses or a plait, and were other¬ 
wise shaven. This characteristic sidelqck. of 
youth w r as regularly depicted, even in the por¬ 
trayals of deities such as the infant iiorus 

Hair-pieces in the form of false plaits and 
curls were sometimes added to the existing 
hair, even in the case of relatively poor indi¬ 
viduals. One of the slain soldiers of 
Mentuhotep n (2055-2004 BC) buried at Deir 
el-Bahri was found to be wearing a hair-piece 
of this type. More common, however, were full 
wigs, which were not confined to those who 
had lost their hair but served as a regular item 
of dress for the elite, as in eighteenth-century 

Many Egyptian wigs were extremely com¬ 
plex and arranged into careful plaits and 
strands. Women often wore very long, heavy 
wigs and these were considered to add to their 

sexuality. Men generally wore shorter wigs 
than women, although their styles were some¬ 
times even more elaborate. Wigs were worn on 
public occasions and at banquets, and, like 

above Elaborate wig made from about 120,000 
human hairs. It consists of a mass of light-coloured 
curls on top of plaits, designed to allow ventilation, 
and would probably ha ve been worn on a festive 
occasion. New Kingdom, from Deir el-Medina, 
it. 50.5 cm. (f.a2560) 

LEFT Detail from the relief decoration of the 
sarcophagus of Queen Kawit (a wife oJ'Nebhepetra 
Mentuhotep //, shown having her hair arranged by 
a servant. 1 1th Dynasty . c. 2055-2004 bc, l. of 
entire sarcophagus 2.62 m (c uro je47 '397) 

hair, would often have been scented (see 
INCENSE). In 1974 a team of Polish archaeolo¬ 
gists discovered the remains of a wig-maker’s 
workshop dating to the Middle and New 
Kingdoms in a rocky cleft at Deir el-Bahri. 
The objects included a sack and jars contain¬ 
ing hair, as well as a model head with the out¬ 
line of the wig’s attachments. 

Wigs were usually made of genuine human 
hair, although vegetable fibres were sometimes 
used for padding beneath the surface. Date 
palm is known to have been used for this pur¬ 
pose in the 21sl Dynasty (1069-945 bc). Two 
Roman wigs made entirely of grass have also 
survived, but the use of this material seems to 
have been wholly exceptional. Contrary to 
persistent references in the archaeological lit¬ 
erature, there is no evidence for the use of 
wool or other animal hair in wigs. 

From at least as early as the New Kingdom, 
the heads of priests were completely shaven 




during their period of office, to signify their 
subservience to the deity 1 , and to reinforce 
their cleanliness, according to the Greek histo¬ 
rian Herodotus. Times of mourning were 
often marked by throwing ashes or dirt over 
the head, and sometimes even removing locks 
of hair. The hieroglyphic determinative sign 
for mourning consists of three locks of hair, 
perhaps alluding to the myth of Isis cutting off 
one of her locks as a symbol of her grief for 
Osiris, an act hinted at in Papyrus Ramesseum 
\i and described in detail by the Greek writer 
Plutarch (c. Ad 46-126). 

E. L\s KOWSKa-KusztaI., ‘Un atelier de 
perruquerier a Deir el-Bahari’, £7" 10 (1978), 

G. Posener, ‘La legende de la tresse d’Hathor’, 
Egyptological studies in honor of R. A. Parke r, ed. 
L. H. Lesko (Hanover and London, 1986), 

J. Fletcher, ‘A tale of hair, wigs and lice’, 
Egyptian archaeology 5 (1994), 31-3. 

—, ‘Hair and wigs’, Ancient Egyptian materials 
and technology , ed. P. T. Nicholson and 1. Shaw 
(Cambridge, 2000). 

Hapy (baboon-god) see Canopic jars 

Hapy (god of the inundation) 

The Egyptians made an important distinction 
between the Nile itself - which was simply 
known as iterw, ‘the river’ - and the Nile INUN¬ 
DATION, which they deified in the form of 
Hapy. He was usually represented as a pot¬ 
bellied bearded man with pendulous breasts 
and a headdress formed of aquatic plants. 
These attributes were designed to stress his 
fertility and fecundity, and in this sense he was 
interchangeable with a number of other 
‘fecundity figures’ whose depictions draw on 
the same reservoir of characteristics. It has 
also been suggested that the androgynous fea¬ 
tures of the pharaoh akhenaten (1352-1336 
bc) - and, to some extent, amenhotep ni 
(1390—1352 lie) - may reflect a similar desire 
to present an image of the body that drew on 
both male and female aspects of fertility. 

Hapy’s major cult centres were at gebki. ei- 
SII.SILA and ASWAN, where he was thought to 
dwell in the caverns among the rocks of the 
first cataract. The lower registers of many tem¬ 
ple walls, from the 5th-Dvnasty mortuary 
temple of Sahura (2487-2475 bc) at abusir to 
the Greco-Roman temple of Horus and Sobek 
at kom QMBO, were decorated with depictions 
of processional fecundity figures bearing trays 
of offerings. From the 19th Dynasty 
(1295-1186 ik.) onwards there were occasion¬ 
ally reliefs portraying two fecundity figures, 
one wearing the papyrus of Lower Egypt and 

j Quartzite statue of the inundation-god Hapy, 
shown with the facial features of Osorkon t, whose 
son, Sheshonq it, is depicted in relief on the left side 
of the statue. 22nd Dynasty, c .910 bc, it. 2.2 m. 

the other wearing die Upper Egyptian lotus, 
in the act of binding together the wind-pipe 
hieroglyph (sema) signifying the unity of the 
southern and northern halves of Egypt. 

D. Bonneau, La crue du Nil, divinite egyptienne a 
travers mi He a ns d'histoire (332 av.-64l up. j.c) 
(Paris, 1964). 

J. Baines, Fecundity figures: Egyptian 
personifications and the iconology of a genre 
(Warminster, 1985). 

D. van her Peas, L'hymne a la crue du Nil , 2 vols 
(Leiden, 1986). 

harim (Egyptian ipet, per-khener ) 

Term used by Egyptologists to describe an 
administrative institution connected with 
royal women and probably attached to 
Pharaonic palaces and villas during the New 
Kingdom. However, the use of this evocative 
term in the ancient Egyptian context is con¬ 

fusing both because it had none of the erotic 
connotations of the Ottoman harim and 
because the texts and archaeological remains 
are difficult to reconcile. 

On the one hand, the surviving texts 
describe an important economic institution 
supported from taxation, and receiving regu¬ 
lar supplies of rations, and on the other hand 
the archaeological remains at gurob are clear¬ 
ly identified as the remains of an independent 
establishment relating to royal women (a 
‘//Kr/w-palacc’), founded in the reign of 
Thutmose ill (1479-1425 bc) and occupied 
throughout the rest of the 18th Dynasty The 
inscriptions on stelae, papyri and various other 
inscribed artefacts from the main buildings at 
the site repeatedly include the titles of officials 
connected with the royal harim (or per-khener) 
of Mi-wer. There was evidently a similar 
establishment at Memphis, but that site has not 

Although other harims have in the past been 
identified among the remains at such sites as 
,V1AI.KATA and EL-AMARNA, which incorporated 
the palaces of Amenhotep hi (1390-1352 lie) 
and Akhenaten (1352—1336 bc:) respectively, 
they are unlikely to have had any connection 
with the harim described in the texts and usu¬ 
ally in fact derive more from the imaginations 
of the excavators than from any hard evidence 
(although the so-called North Palace at el- 
Amarna, which ironically was not identified as 
a harim by its excavators, bears some compari- 

Copy of a relief showing Raineses hi with one of the 
princesses in his harim. Eastern Gate, Medina 

son with the buildings at Gurob). As far as the 
textual version of the institution is concerned, 
the women arc said to have undertaken such 
tasks as the weaving of linen (an activity that is 
well attested at Gurob). The harim was admin¬ 
istered by such male officials as tax-collectors 
and scribes, whose titles have been preserved 
on numerous surviving documents. 

When the pharaoh took a new wife or 




concubine she was added to the ha rim, along 
with her entourage of maidservants, so that, as 
time went by, literally dozens of women might 
be attached to it. Children, including occa¬ 
sional young foreign captives, were brought up 
in the royal harm, a practice that may have 
fostered the Biblical story of Moses. Given the 
details of the Moses narrative, it is perhaps not 
surprising to find that the women of the harm 
occasionally became involved in political 
intrigue. From the Turin Judicial Papyrus it is 
known that Tiv, a wife of Rameses hi 
(1184—1153 bc), plotted with other women 
and some of the male officials to overthrow 
him in favour of her son. In the event the plot 
was discovered and the prince was forced to 
commit suicide, along with several of the other 
conspirators, although the fate of Tiv and the 
other women is not known. 

A. Dr. Buck, The judicial papyrus of Turin', 
JfEA 23(1937), 152-64. 

E. Reiser, Der kimigliche Harim im alien Agypten 
and seine Vermaltung (Vienna, 1972) [reviewed by 

B. J. Kemp, /EH 62 (1976), 191-2] 

B. J. Kemp, The harim-palace at Medinet el- 
Ghurab’, 7AS 15 (1978), 122-33. 

D. Nord, The term hnr. “harem” or “musical 
performers”?', Studies in ancient Egypt, the 
Aegean and the Sudan, ed. W.K. Simpson and 
W. M. Davis (Boston, 1981), 137-45. 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 
1993), 38-40. 

Harpocrates see horus 

Harsomtus see horus 


Important bovine goddess worshipped in 
three forms: as a woman with the ears of a 
cow, as a cow, and as a woman wearing a head¬ 
dress consisting of a wig, horns and sun disc. 
Her associations and cult centres were among 
the most numerous and diverse of any of the 
Egyptian deities. In her vengeful aspect she 
sometimes also shared the leonine form of the 
goddess sekiimet, and in this guise she was 
regarded as one of the ‘eyes’ of the sun-god ra. 
She was also described as ‘lady of the sky’, and 
her role as the daughter of ra was reinforced 
in the temple of HORUS at edfu by references to 
her marriage to Horus of Edfu, a falcon-god 
associated with the heavens. 

The literal meaning of her name was ‘house 
of Horus’, and was written in the form of a fal¬ 
con contained within a hieroglyph represent- 
tng a rectangular building. Since the pharaoh 
was identified with Horus, Hathor was corre¬ 
spondingly regarded as the divine mother of 
each reigning king, and one of the roy al titles 

was ‘son of Hathor’. Her role as royal mother 
is well illustrated by a statue of Hathor in the 
form of a cow suckling the pharaoh 
Amenhotep n (1427-1400 bc) from a chapel at 
heir EI -BAIIRI (now in the Egyptian Museum, 
Cairo). The king, however, was also regularly 
described as the son of ISIS, who appears to 
have usurped Hathor’s role when the legend of 
Isis, Seth and osiris was conflated with that of 
the birth of Horus. 

In one myth Hathor was said to have been 
sent to destroy humanity (see EYE. of ra), but 

Faience sistrum decorated with the face of the 
goddess Hathor, with cow’s ears and distinctive 
curling wig. 26th Dynasty, after 6 00 nc. (/■: i34190) 

she was more usually associated with such 
pleasurable aspects of life as SEXUALITY, joy 
and music:. Her connection with music was 
particularly represented by the sistrum, cere¬ 
monial examples of which were often endowed 
with I Iathor heads, sometimes surmounted by 
a NAOS, and frequently shaken by the priest¬ 
esses of the cult of Hathor. She was also regu¬ 
larly portrayed on the menal counterpoise 
attached to necklaces. 

In her funerary aspect, most notably at 
western Thebes, she was known as ‘lady of the 
West’ or ‘lady of the western mountain’. Each 
evening she was considered to receive the set¬ 

ting sun, which she then protected until 
morning. The dying therefore desired to be ‘in 
the following of Hathor’ so that they would 
enjoy similar protection in the netherworld. 
Hathor was also one of the deities who was 
thought to be able to determine the destinies 
of newborn children. 

She was the goddess most often associated 
with the desert and foreign countries, and as 
such was worshipped as ‘lady of BYBLOS’. At 
the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadim in 
Sinai a temple was built to her in her role as 
‘lady of turquoise’. By extension she was also 
known as ‘lady of faience’ (the latter being an 
artificial substance designed to imitate certain 
precious stones). 

The city of Memphis was an important 
centre of Hathor worship, and she was 
described there as ‘lady of the sycamore’, but 
from as early as the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 
BC.) her principal cult centre was at dendera, 
where a temple of the Ptolemaic and Roman 
periods dedicated to the triad of Hathor, 
Horus and Ihy is still preserved (on the site of 
an earlier foundation). The sanatorium associ¬ 
ated with this temple probably relates to the 
healing properties that were associated with 
the goddess because of the myth in which she 
restored the sight of Horus after his eye had 
been put out by Seth. 

S. Ai.i.AM, Beil rage zum Hathorkult (his zum Ernie 
des MR) (Berlin, 1963). 

P. Derchain, Hathor Quadrifons (Istanbul, 1972). 
S. Qt irke. Ancient Egyptian religion (London, 

1992) , 126-30. 

G. Pinch, Votive offerings to Hathor (Oxford, 

1993) . 


Fish-goddess of the Delta, who served as the 
symbol of the sixteenth nome of Lower Egypt, 
the capital of which was the city of mendes, 
her principal cult centre. Her worship at 
Mendes became less important with the rise of 
the ram-god Banebdjedet, who came to be 
regarded as her consort. She was usually rep¬ 
resented either as a Nile carp ( Lepidotus ) or as 
a woman with a fisiI emblem (once misidenti- 
fied as a dolphin) on her head. 


‘Egyptian alabaster’ (travertine) quarries and 
associated seasonally occupied workers’ settle¬ 
ment in the Eastern Desert, about 65 km 
southeast of modern el-AIinya. The pottery, 
hieroglyphic inscriptions and hieratic graffiti 
at the site show that it was in use intermittent¬ 
ly from at least as early as the reign of Khufu 
until the Roman period (c.2589 bc-ad 300). 
The Hatnub quarry settlements, associated 



View of the Old Kingdom travertine quarry at 
Hatnub. (/. sum) 

with three principal quarries, like those associ¬ 
ated with gold mines in the Wadi Hammamat 
and elsewhere, are characterized by drystone 
windbreaks, roads, causeways, cairns and 
stone alignments. 

G. W. Fraser, ‘Hat-Nub’, PS BA 16 (1894), 

R. Anthes, Die Felseninschriften von Hatnub 
(Leipzig, 1928). 

I. M. E. Shaw, ‘A survey at Hatnub’, Amarna 
reports m, cd. B. J. Kemp (London, 1986), 

Hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc) 

Daughter of thutmosf. r (1504—1492 bc) and 
Queen ahmose NEFertari, who was married to 
her half-brother Thutmose u (1492-1479 bc), 
the son of a Secondary wife, perhaps in order 
to strengthen his claim to the throne. She had 
a daughter, Neferura, by Thutmose n, but the 
heir to the throne, the future Thutmose m was 
the son of one of Thutmose n’s concubines. 
Since Thutmose ni (1479-1425 bc), was the 
only male child, he was married to his half- 
sister Neferura in order to reinforce his posi¬ 
tion. Because Thutmose m was still young 
when his father died, Hatshepsut was appoint¬ 
ed regent, and she took the further step of 
having herself crowned king, allowing her to 
continue to enjoy a long coregency with the 
young Thutmose, thus effectively blocking 
him from full power. In this she appears to 
have had the support of the priests of Amun, 
and some of the reliefs in her mortuary temple 
at deir EL-BAHRl reinforced her claim by 
emphasizing her divine birth, the result of a 

union between Amun and her mother Queen 
Ahmose. She was probably never the chosen 
heir of her father Thutmose I, although she 
claimed to have been given the kingship dur¬ 
ing her father’s lifetime. It is likely, however, 
that these reliefs and inscriptions concerning 
her legitimacy were simply part of the usual 
paraphernalia of kingship rather than self- 
conscious propaganda on her part. 

During her reign there was renewed build- 

Reliefblockfrom the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut at 
Karnak, showing the queen performing a religious 
ceremony associated with the kingship. 18th Dynasty, 
c.1470bc, quartzite, (gr. ih. im harrison) 

ing activity at Thebes and elsewhere, i n 
which she was assisted by sesenmut, archi 
tect, chief courtier and tutor to Neferura It 
is possible that his political skills had already 
helped to gain Hatshepsut her elevated posi¬ 
tion. Her temple at Deir el-Bahri, influenced 
bv the earlier temple of Nebhepetra \u:\- 
tuhotep ii (2055-2004 bc), was the finest of 
her buildings. Here she recorded other 
aspects of her reign, most notably her trading 
expeditions to punt, byblos and sinai as well 
as the transport of two enormous granite 
obelisks from the quarries at Asw r an to the 
temple of Amun-Ra at karnak. It has, in the 
past, been suggested that the reign of 
Hatshepsut was an unusually peaceful period 
in Egyptian history, but evidence has gradu¬ 
ally emerged for the continued dispatch of 
military expeditions during her reign, despite 
the apparent emphasis on trade in the reliefs 
at Deir el-Bahri. 

Her monuments at Deir el-Bahri and else¬ 
where frequently show her in kingly costume, 
including the royal beard, and they often refer 
to her with masculine pronouns and adjectives 
as though she were male (although, once 
again, it is likely that this was simply a case of 
adhering to the accepted decorum of kingship 
rather than deliberate deception). In practice, 
there must have been some sense of conflict 
betw een her sex and the masculine role of the 
pharaoh, but only the occasional grammatical 
slips in the texts (and, more importantly the 
posthumous attempts to remove her name 
from monuments) have survived as indications 
of such feelings of inappropriateness. 

When Thutmose m reached maturity he 
eventually became sole ruler, but it is by no 
means clear whether I latshepsul simply died 
or was forcibly removed from power. It has 
been argued that the apparent disappearance 
both of Neferura and Senenmut (who is not 
attested after Thutmose ill’s nineteenth regnal 
year) may perhaps have eased the transfer of 
power. It used to bc thought that Thuimose 
immediately set about removing his step¬ 
mother’s name from her monuments, as retri¬ 
bution for her seizure of power, but it is now 
known that these defacements did not take 
place until much later in his reign. This re¬ 
dating perhaps calls into question the motive 
of pure vengeance or anger, as opposed to a 
feeling that her reign had simply been con¬ 
trary to tradition. On the other hand her two 
massive obelisks at Karnak appear to have 
been deliberately concealed behind masonry 
and her name w r as among those omitted from 
subsequent king lists. 

She had prepared a tomb for herself in the 
Valley of the Kings (ky 20), which was discov- 




ered by Howard Carter in 1903. There is no 
evidence that k\ 20 was ever used for her bur¬ 
ial, although it contained an empty quartzite 
sarcophagus originally intended forThutmose 
i (now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). 
She may have been laid to rest in an earlier 
tomb, the so-called ‘south tomb' in the Wadi 
SikketTaqa el-Zeid in the cliffs to the south of 
Deir el-Bahri, which had been constructed 
before her rise to the throne. 

H. Carter and T. M. Davies, The tomb of 
Hatshopsitu (London, 1906). 

H. Carter, ‘A tomb prepared for Queen 
Hatshepsuit and other recent discoveries at 
Thebes’, JEA 4 (1917), 107-18. 

W. F. Edgerton, The Thutmosid succession 
(Chicago, 1933). 

P. Dorman, The monuments of Senenmut 
(London, 1988). 

P. Der Manuei ian and C. E. Loeben, ‘New 
light on the recarved sarcophagus of 
Hatshepsut and Thutmose i in the Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston’, JEA 79 (1994), 121-56. 

J. Tyi.DESI.ey, Haichepsut: the female pharaoh 
(Harmondsworth, 1996). 


Royal necropolis in the southeastern Fayum 
region, the most important element of which 
was the pyramid complex of amenemj iat ill 

Plan of the pyramid complex ofAmenemhat in at 

above View of the pyramid at IJawara. (l. SHAW) 

RIGI it Mummy case ofArtemidorus, incorporating 
an encaustic portrait of the deceased. Roman 
period , early 2nd century id, painted and gilded 
stucco, from Hawara, u. 1.67 m. (EA21810) 

(1855-1808 bc). The mortuary temple con¬ 
structed immediately to the south of the pyra¬ 
mid was known to Classical authors as the 
‘Labyrinth 1 . It was visited by the Greek histo¬ 
rian Herodotus, who described a complex of 
three thousand rooms connected by winding 
passages. The site subsequently became part 
of the itinerary of Greek and Roman trav¬ 
ellers. Although only a few traces of the mor¬ 
tuary temple have survived, it has been sug¬ 
gested that it may originally have had some 
similarities to the complex surrounding the 
Step Pyramid of Djoser (2667-2648 bc) at 
SAQQARA. Hawara was first identified by 
Lepsius in 1843 and later excavated by 
Flinders Petrie in 1889-9 and 1910-11. In the 
vicinity of Hawara Petrie also discovered a 
cemetery incorporating a number of Favum 
mummy-portraits executed in ENCAUSTIC or 
tempera and dating to the Roman period 
(30 bc-ad 395). 

W. M. F. Petrie, Hawara, Biahmu and Arsinoe 
(London, 1889). 

—, Kahun, Gurob and Hawara (London, 1890). 
W. M. F. Petrie, G. A. Wainwright and 
E. Mackay, The Labyrinth, Gerzeh and 
Mazguneh (London, 1912). 

A. B. Lloyd, ‘The Egyptian Labyrinth 1 , jfEA 56 
(1970), 81-100. 

D. Arnold, ‘Das Labyrinth und seine Vorbilder 1 , 
M DA IK 35 (1979), 1-9. 




Hawawish, el- sec akiimim 

hawk see falcon 


The insignia and regalia of Egyptian rulers 
and deities included a wide variety of head¬ 
dresses. The pharaoh invariably wore headgear 
of some kind, ranging from the double crown 
to the simple nemes headcloth (see crow ns \\d 

The deities’ headdresses were often 
extremely distinctive, and from an 
Egyptological point of view often serve as the 
principal clue to the identity of the deity con¬ 
cerned. Occasionally such attributes as the 
headdress are transferred from one deity to 
another in order to reflect the adoption of par¬ 
ticular characteristics. The commonest head¬ 
dresses are listed below: 

Amentet (personification of the West): standard 
surmounted by a feather and bird. 

Amun: crown with two tall plumes, also combined 
with a sun disc. 

Anuket: crown or cap of feathers. 

Atum: double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. 
Gcb: cither a goose or the crown of Lower Egypt 
combined with the atef crown. 

Ha (god of the Western Desert): the hieroglyph 
for desert or hills. 

Hathor: cow ’s horns and solar disc. 

Heh: notched palm frond. 

I Iorus: double crown or triple atef crown. 

Iabet (personification of the East): spear standard. 
Isis: the hieroglyphic sign for throne, a pair of 
cow’s horns and a solar disc, or a vulture 

Khons: lunar disc and crescent. 

Maat: feather. 

Min: double-plumed crow n with ribbon or 
streamer hanging from the back. 

Mut: vulture headdress sometimes surmounted 
by double crown. 

Neferlem: lotus flower. 

Neith: shield with two crossed arrow s and crow n 
of Low er Egypt. 

Xekhbet: vulture headdress or crown of Upper 

Xephthys: hieroglyphs denoting ‘mistress of the 
house’, consisting of a rectangle surmounted by a 
basket shape. 

Xut: ceramic vessel. 

Osiris: atef crown. 

Ptah: skull-cap. 

Satet: white crown with antelope horns. 

Serket: scorpion. 

Seshat: star of five or seven points. 

Shu: ostrich feather. 

Waset/Wosret (goddess of the Theban nomc): \\ \s 
sckptrk w ith a ribbon, placed above the 
hieroglyphic sign for nome (a field marked out 
with irrigation channels). 


To the Egyptians the heart (Italy or //>), rather 
than the brain, was regarded as the source of 
human wisdom and the centre of the emotions 
and memory. Its function in the circulation of 
the blood was not understood, although one 
religious treatise states that the movement of 
all parts of the body w'as determined by the 
heart. Because of its supposed links with intel¬ 
lect, personality and memory, it was consid¬ 
ered to be the most important of the internal 

Since it was felt that the heart could reveal 
a person’s true character, even after death, it 
was left in the body during mummification, 
and if accidentally removed would be sewn 
back into place. There was some concern that 
the heart might testify against its ow ner and so 
condemn him or her at the judgement; in 
order to prevent this, a heart SCARAB was com¬ 
monly wrapped within the bandages. The 
inscription on this scarab usually consisted of 
Chapter 30 from the book, or the or ad: l O 
my heart which I had from my mother; 0 my 
heart which I had upon earth, do not rise up 
against me as a witness in the presence of the 
lord of things; do not speak against me con¬ 
cerning what 1 have done, do not bring up any¬ 
thing against me in the presence of the great 
god of the west...’ 

In the portrayal of the final judgement - a 
popular vignette in copies of the Book <>l the 
Dead - the heart of the deceased was shown 
being w eighed against the feather of M \ vi (the 
symbol of universal truth and harmony), and 
the god Anubis was sometimes to be seen 
adjusting the balance slightly in favour ol the 
deceased to ensure a safe entry into the under¬ 
world. The heart was thought to be given back 
to die deceased in the afterlife; Chapters 26-9 
of the Book of the Dead were therefore 




A selection of heart scarabs and amulets: TOP left 
green faience scarab inscribed with Chapter 30b of 
the Book of the Dead, 3rd Intermediate Period, /.. 
6.7 cm. (f.a66817) top right steatite, very flat, 
human-headed heart scarab inscribed on the 
underside with Chapter 30b of the Book of the 
Dead for the woman Isis, New Kingdom, /.. 6.8 cm. 
(EA38073) bottom left green-glazed steatite 
scarab inlaid with cornelian and blue glass. The 
underside bears Chapter 30b of the Book of the 
Dead', New Kingdom, /.. 4.3 cm. (t:\66814) 
BOTTOM CENTRE polychrome glass heart amulet 
with slightly convex faces, 18th Dynasty, 

H. 2.1 cm. (n \29265) bottom right light 
turquoise-blue glass, flat-backed, convex-faced 
heart. New Kingdom, it. 2.6 cm. (ea8128) 

intended to ensure that the heart was restored 
and could not be removed. 

From the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) 
onwards, ‘heart amulets’, taking the form of a 
vase with lug handles (perhaps representing the 
blood vessels), were introduced into the funer¬ 
ary equipment. The heading of Chapter 29b in 
the Book of the Dead stated that such amulets 
should be made of seheret stone (cornelian), but 
there are many surviving examples which are 
made from other materials, such as glass. 

R. O. Faulkner, The ancient Egyptian Book of 
the Dead, ed. C. Andrews (London, 1972), 52-6. 
C. Andrews, Amulets of ancient Egypt (London, 
1994), 72-3. 


God of infinity, usually represented as a kneel¬ 
ing man either holding a notched palm-rib 
(hieroglyphic symbol for ‘year’) in each hand or 
wearing a palm-rib on his head. Occasionally 
he is also shown carrying an ankii sign over 
his arm. The primary meaning of the term 
heh was ‘millions’, but he was transformed 
into the god of eternal life by such symbolic- 
associations with the concepts of ‘year’ and 
‘life’. His image was consequently incorpo¬ 
rated into royal iconography as a means of 
ensuring the king’s longevity. With typical 
Egyptian attention to duality, the alternative 
word for eternity, djet, was represented as a 
female deity. 

Along with his consort Hauhet, Heh was 
also one of the ogdoad, a group of eight 
primeval deities whose main cult centre was at magna. The motif of Heh was 
often incorporated into the decoration of royal 
regalia as a means of ensuring longevity. Heh 
was also connected with the myth of the 
‘celestial cow’, who was said to have been sup¬ 
ported by a group of eight Heh deities; in the 

Lid of a mirror-case from the tomb of 
Tntankhamun, bearing a figure of the god Heh, 
n. 27cm. (curo so. 271c-d, reproduced 


same way, Heh is often represented as holding 
up the solar bark and finally lifting it back 
into the heavens at the end of its voyage 
through the netherworld. 

II., ‘Ileh’, Lcxikon der Agyptologic n. 

ed. W. Ilelck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1977), 1082-4. 

J. F. Borghouts, ‘Heh, Darreichen dcs’, Lexikon 
der Agyptologic it, ed. W. Ilelck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1977), 1084-6. 

heiress theory see aiimosk nkfkrtari and 


Heka see magic 
Heket (Heqat) 

Goddess represented in the form of a frog, a 
typical primordial creature which, at certain 
times of the year, was observed to emerge from 
the Nile, apparently reborn and thus perhaps 
emphasizing the coming of new life. She is 
first attested in the pyramid texts where she is 
said to have assisted in the journey of the dead 
king to the sky. The remains of a temple of 
Heket have been excavated at Qus, and in the 
tomb of petosirjs (r.300 bc) at Tuna el-Gebel 
there is a text dealing with a procession in her 
honour, in which she requests that her temple 
at Her-wer (a still-unlocated site) be restored 
and protected from the inundation. 

Heket’s strongest association was with 
childbirth, particularly the final stages of 
labour. During the Middle Kingdom 
(2055—1650 bc), she was depicted or named 
on such magical artefacts as ivory daggers 




and clappers, in her role as protector of the 
household and guardian of pregnant women: 
The term ‘servant of Heket’ may have been 
applied to midwives. Just as the ram-god 
KH\UM was considered to have been respon¬ 
sible for fashioning the first humans on a pot¬ 
ter’s wheel, so Heket was portrayed as his 

Diorite-gneiss amulet in the form of the frog- 
goddess Heket. New Kingdom-3rd Intermediate 
Period , //. 1.4 cm. (ea!475H) 

female complement in that she was credited 
with fashioning the child in the womb and 
giving it life. 

Although amulets of Heket were less popu¬ 
lar than those of BES or taweret, they are not 
uncommon, even during the reign of AKHEN- 
atf.n (1352—1336 bc), when many other tradi¬ 
tional cults were proscribed. Her life-giving- 
powers associated her with the myths sur¬ 
rounding OSIRIS, the god of the dead, and in 
this capacity she was depicted as receiving- 
offerings from Sety I (1294-1279 bc) in his 
temple at Abvdos. 

C. Andrews, Amulets of ancient Egypt (London, 
1994), 63. 

heliacal rising see calendar and sotiuc 

Heliopolis (Tell I lisn; anc. Iunu, On) 

One of the most important cult-centres of the 
Pharaonic period and the site of the first 
known sun temple, dedicated to the god Ra- 
Horakhtv (see ra), which was probably first 
constructed in the early Old Kingdom (r.2600 
bc). Although little remains of the site now; its 
importance in the Pharaonic period was such 
that ARMAN'r was sometimes described as the 
‘southern Heliopolis’. 

The 5th-Dvnasty sun temple of Nyuserra 
(2445-2421 bc) at abu gurab is thought to 
have been modelled on the prototypical 
Heliopolitan sun-temple complex. Because a 
great deal of the original temple at Heliopolis 
is now 7 buried beneath the northwestern sub¬ 
urb of Cairo, the only significant monument 
still standing in situ is a pink granite obelisk 
dating to the time of Senusret i (1965-1920 
bc). There arc a number of surviving monu¬ 
ments and fragments of relief from Heliopolis 


that have been moved elsewhere, including die 
obelisks re-erected in New York and London, 
which both date to the reign of Thutmose ill 
(1479-1425 bc). 

The site also incorporates a Predynastic 
cemetery and the tombs of the chief priests of 
Heliopolis during the 6th Dynasty (2345-2181 
bc). In an area now known as Arab el-Tawil 
there was a necropolis of sacred mneyi.s bulls 
of the Ramcsside period (1295-1069 bc). 

W. M. F. Petrie and E. Mack ay , Heliopolis , Kafr 
AmmarandShurafa (London, 1915). 

L. H abaci n, ‘Akhenaten in Heliopolis’, Festschrift 
Ricke: Beil rage zur Agyplischen Bauforschung and 
Altertumskunde 12 (Cairo, 1971), 35-45. 

F. Debono, The predynastic cemetery at Heliopolis 
(Cairo, 1988). 

Heqat see heket 

Herakleopolis Magna (Ihnasya el Medina; 
anc. Henen-nesw ) 

Site located 15 km to the w est of modern Beni 
Suef, which reached its peak as the capital of 
the 9th and l()th Dynasties during the First 
Intermediate Period (2181-2055 bc). It was 
renamed Herakleopolis Magna in the 
Ptolemaic period (332-30 bc), when the 
Greeks identified the local deity, a ram-god 
called i ierysi ief, with their own god Herakles. 
The surviving remains include two Pharaonic 
temples, one of which was dedicated to 
Hervshef, and the nearby necropolis of 

Granite column with a 
palm-leafcapita l, from 
the temple ofHeryshef at 
Hera kleopolls Magna. 
Reign of Raineses It 
c. 1250 ac, ft. 5.28 m. 
(Eli 123) 

Sedment el-Gebel, which incorporates a 
cemetery of the First Intermediate Period and 
rock-tombs of the Ptolemaic and Roman peri¬ 
ods (332 bc-ad 395). The main temple of 
Hervshef was founded at least as early as the 
Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) and signifi¬ 
cantly enlarged during the reign of Ramescs n 
(1279-1213 bc), when a hypostyi.e iiali. was 

The site also flourished during the Third 
Intermediate Period (1069-747 bc), and the 
surviving remains of this date include a ceme¬ 
tery, a large temple and part of the settlement. 
When the temple was excavated by a Spanish 
team during the 1980s, the finds included a 
libation altar and a pair of inlaid eyes thought 
to derive from a cult statue. The same team 
has also excavated parts of the First 
Intermediate Period and Third Intermediate 
Period cemeteries. 

E. Naville, Almas elMedineh (Heracleopolis 
Magna) (London, 1894). 

W. M. F. Petrie, Ehnasya 1904 (London, 1905). 

J. Lope/., ‘Rapport preliminaire sur les fouilles 
dTIerakleopolis (1968)’, Oriens Antiquus 13 
(1974), 299-316. 

J. Padro and M. Perez-Die, ‘Travaux reeents de 
la mission archeologique espagnolc a 
Herakleopolis Magna’, Akten Miinchen 1985 n, 
ed. S. Schoske (Hamburg, 1989), 229-37. 

M. Perez-die, ‘Discoveries at Heracleopolis 
Magna’, Egyptian Archaeology i t (1995), 23-5 

Herihor (//. 1080-1070 bc) 

High priest of Amun at Thebes during the 
reign of the last 20th-Dynasty ruler ra.mkses 
xi (1099-1069 bc). Inscriptions in the last 
decade of the Dynasty refer to a ‘renaissance 
era’, during which, although Ramescs was still 
nominally the only legitimate ruler, the 
administration of Egypt was effectively divid¬ 
ed between three men: the pharaoh himself, 
whose power-base was in Memphis and 
Middle Egypt, smendes (his eventual succes¬ 
sor) who controlled most of Lower Egypt from 
the Delta city of tanks, and Herihor, who 
dominated Upper Egypt and Nubia. 

The origins of Herihor are poorly known, 
but it is thought likely that his parents were 
Libyan. The textual studies of Jansen- 
Winkeln increasingly suggest that Piankhi, 
once thought to be Herihor’s son and succes¬ 
sor, was the father-in-law of Herihor (see 
new kingdom). Bv the last decade of 
Rameses xi’s reign, Herihor had acquired the 
titles of high priest of Amun at Thebes, gen¬ 
eralissimo and viceroy or kush, a combina¬ 
tion of offices that must have brought him to 
the brink of ruling as a pharaoh in his own 
right. Indeed, in one relief in the temple of 



Detail of the Booh of the Dead papyrus of Herihor, 
showing the deceased and his wife. Late New 
Kingdom , c. 1070 ttc. (e.i! 0541) 

Khons ar karnak, his name is written in a 
cartouche and he is explicitly portrayed as 
equal in status to the king, while in another 
relief elsewhere in the temple he is shown 
wearing the double crown. 

Both Herihor and his wife Nodjmet were 
given cartouches in the inscriptions on their 
funerary equipment, but this ‘kingship’ 
seems to have been limited to a few relatively 
restricted contexts within the coniines of 
Thebes, and it was Rameses xi’s name that 
appeared in administrative documents 
throughout the country. Apart from the 
reliefs at Karnak, the only significant surviv¬ 
ing monuments of Herihor are a statue 
(Egyptian Museum, Cairo) and a stele 
(Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden), and 
no traces of his tomb have been found in 
western Thebes. 

His rule over the Theban region was the 
chronological setting for the Report of 
Wenamun (the text of which is preserved on a 
single papyrus now in the Pushkin Museum, 
Moscow). This literary classic, which may 
possibly be based on a true account, narrates 
the difficulties encountered by an Egyptian 
diplomat sent by Herihor to bring back timber 
from SYRIA at a time when Egyptian influence 
in the Levant was on the wane. 

G. Lefebvre, Histoire des grands pretres d'Anion 
de Karnak jusqu'a la vv/e dynast ie (Paris, 1929). 

M. Lici ithEIM, . Indent Egyptian literature n 
(Berkeley, 1976), 224-30 [translation of the 
Report of Wenamun] 

M.-A. Bomieue, ‘Herihor, fut-il effcctivcment 
roi?\ BIR10 79 (1979), 267-84. 

K. A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in 
Egypt (1100-650 BC), 2nd ed. (Warminster, 

1986), 16-23,248-52,535-41. 

K. Jansen-Winkeln, ‘Das Ende des Neuen 
Reiches’, ZAS 119 (1992), 22-37. 

Hermopolis Magna (el-Ashmunein; anc. 

Ancient Pharaonic capital of the 15th Upper 
Egyptian NOME and cult-centre of Thoth, 
located to the west of the Nile, close to the 

modern town of Mallawi. The site was badly 
plundered during the early Islamic period 
but there are still surviving traces of temples 
dating to the Middle and New Kingdoms, 
including a pylon constructed by Rameses n 
(1279-1213 bc) which contained stone 
blocks quarried from the temples of 
Akhenaten (1352-1336 bc:) at el-amarxa, a 
few kilometres to the southeast. There are 
also substantial remains of a COPTIC basilica 
constructed from the remains of a Ptolemaic 
temple built entirely in a Greek architectur¬ 
al style. The nearby cemetery of TUNA EL- 
GEBEL includes two of the rock-cut ‘bound¬ 
ary stelae’ of Akhenaten, the tomb-chapel of 
petosiris (e. 300 bc), a temple of Thoth and 
extensive catacombs dating mainly from the 
27th Dynasty to the Roman period (c.525 
BC-AD 395). 

G. Roeder, Hermopolis 1929-39 (Ilildesheim, 

J. D. Cooney, Amarna reliefs from Hermopolis in 
American collections (Brooklyn, 1965). 

G. Roeder and R. Hanke, Amarna-reliefs a us 
Hermopolis , 2 vols (Hildesheim, 1969-78). 

A. J. Spencer and D. M. Baii.ey, Excavations at 
el-Ashmunein , 4 vols (London, 1983-93). 

A. J. Spencer, ‘Ashmunein 1980-1985: a 
practical approach to townsite excavation’, 
Problems and priorities in Egyptian archaeology , 
ed. J. Assmann et al. (London, 1987), 255-60. 

.above One of the colossal statues of the god Thoth 
as a baboon , at Hermopolis Magna. Reign of 
Amenhotep rn, c.1370 bc. (i. sh.iii) 

left Plan of Hermopolis Magna. 

position of a pair 

of colossi of Thoth n 

as a baboon . • • ^ 

enclosure \\ -"A 

\\ \ ' temple of 


temple of Amun 

Christian basilica 

0 100 200 300 400 500 m 

seated colossi of Rameses II modem settlement 




Herodotus (c-.484-f.420 bc) 

Greek traveller and historian born at 
Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, whose works are 
a particularly valuable source for the later his¬ 
tory of Egypt. Some scholars have described 
him as the ‘father of history’, although others 
have called him ‘father of lies’, because of his 
supposedly fantastic tales. Nevertheless, a 
number of his stories have subsequently been 
vindicated by archaeology (see tell basta). 

The nine books of Herodotus’ Histories 
were written between 430 and 425 bc, and 
principally describe the struggles between the 
GREEKS and the Persians, although the second 
book is devoted to Egypt, apparently drawing 
heavily on personal experiences. 

His travels in Egypt, which took place in 
about 450 bc, may have extended as far south 
as Aswan, although he gives no detailed 
account of Thebes, concentrating instead on 
the Delta. His information was largely pro¬ 
vided by Egyptian priests, many of whom 
probably held only minor offices and would 
perhaps have been anxious to take advantage 
of an apparently gullible visitor in order to 
show off their assumed knowledge. 
Nevertheless, his account of Egypt in the 
fifth century bc has been largely substantiat¬ 
ed, and his astute observations included the 
identification of the pyramids as royal burial 
places. A major source of information on 
mummification and other ancient Egyptian 
religious and funerary customs, he attracted 
numerous ancient imitators, including 
STRABO (who visited Egypt in f.30 bc) and 

W. G. Waddell, Herodotus, Book ii (London, 

J. Wilson, Herodotus in Egypt (Leiden, 1970). 

A. B. Lloyd, Herodotus Book ti.l: on introduction 
(Leiden, 1975). 

—, Herodotus Book 11.2: commentary 1—98 
(Leiden, 1976). 

—, Herodotus Book it.2: commentary 99—182 
(Leiden, 1988). 

Heryshef (Arsaphes) 

Fertility god usually represented in the form 
of a ram or ram-headed man, who was wor¬ 
shipped in the region of HERAKLEOPOI.IS 
magna, near modern Beni Suef, from at least 
as early as the 1st Dynasty (3100-2890 bc), 
according to the PALERMO STONE. The etymol¬ 
ogy of Heryshef’s name, which literally means 
‘he who is upon his lake’, suggests that he was 
considered to be a creator-god who emerged 
from the primeval waters of the sacred lake. 
The first-century Greek historian Plutarch 
rendered the name as Arsaphes and translated 
it as ‘manliness’, but he was probably simply 

taking an Egyptian pun at face value. Heryshef 
was at various times associated with the sun- 
god Ra and the god of the dead osiris: he is 
therefore sometimes portrayed with either the 
sun-disc headdress or the atef crown (see 
crowns and royal regalia). 

G. H ARE, A dictionary of Egyptian gods and 
goddesses (London, 1986), 85-7. 

Hesyra (Hesy) (c.2660 bc) 

Official of the time of the 3rd-Dvnasty ruler 
DJOser (2667-2648 bc), whose titles included 
die posts of ‘overseer of the royal scribes, 
greatest of physicians and dentists’. His 
mastaba tomb (s2405 [a3]), located to the 
north of the Step Pyramid at SAQ.QARA, was 
discovered by Auguste Mariette in the 1880s, 
and re-excavated, about thirty years later, by 
James Quibell. 

The tomb has an elaborate corridor chapel 
with palace-facade decoration (sec serekh) 
along its west wall consisting of eleven niches, 
each of which would originally have been 
brightly painted in matting patterns. At the 
back of each niche stood a carved wooden 
panel, only six of which had survived at the 
time of discovery (now in the Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo). The panels are sculpted 

ABOVE. Detail of a wooden stele from the tomb of 
Hesyra at Saqqara , 3rd Dynasty, c.2650 bc. ii. of 
complete stele 114 cm. (Cairo yr.28504, /. sh in ) 

w ith the figure of Hesyra in various costumes, 
while the beautifully caned hieroglyphs pre¬ 
sent his name and titles. The eastern wall of 
this corridor was decorated with delicately 
painted carvings of furniture and offerings, 
carefully set out as if arranged in a shelter of 
matting. In an outer corridor was the earliest 
representation of a crocodile awaiting unwary 
cattle as they crossed a stream, a theme that 
was to be repeated many times in later 
mastabas. The burial itself was located in a 
subterranean chamber connected with the 
superstructure by a shaft. The tomb was one 
of the first to incorporate a SERDAB (statue 

A. Mariktte, Les mastabas de TAncien Empire 
(Paris, 1882-9). 

J. E. Quibell, The tomb of Hesy: excavations at 
Saqqara (Cairo, 1913). 

W. Wood, ‘A reconstruction of the reliefs of 
Hesv-re’, JARCE 15 (1978), 9-24. 

M. Sai.ei i and H. Sourou/.ian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo: official catalogue (Mainz, 1987), 
no. 21. 

left The mastaba tomb of Hesyra (s iqq ir i 





Hetepheres i (<-.2600 bc) 

Early 4th-Dynasty queen, who was the princi¬ 
pal wife of snkperu (2613-2589 bc), the moth¬ 
er of khufu (2589-2566 bc) and probably also 
the daughter of Huni, last ruler of the 3rd 
Dynasty. Little is known of her life, but her 
well-preserved burial at GIZA (g7000x) was dis¬ 
covered in 1925 by the staff photographer of 
the Harvard-Boston expedition, led by 
George Reisner. 

The excavation of an area of unexplained 
white plaster on the eastern side of the Great 
Pyramid revealed a tomb shaft leading to a 
small empty room, deep below which was a 
concealed burial chamber. This contained a 

Canopy, bed and chair from the tomb ofQtieen 
Hetepheres. 4th Dynasty, c .2600 hc. (EGYPT! i\ 

sealed sarcophagus, a mass of gilded wood in a 
very poor state of preservation, and a number of 
items of metalwork. Inscriptions on some of the 
objects indicated that the tomb belonged to 
Hetepheres, the mother of Khufu, whose 
funerary equipment had apparently been hasti¬ 
ly reburied. Although the sarcophagus was 
empty, a concealed niche was found to contain 
an alabaster canopic box, with residues believed 
to derive from the MUMMIFICATION of her body. 

Reisner believed that the remains of 
Hetepheres 1 funerary equipment had been 
reburied bv Khufu after her original tomb, 
perhaps located near that of Sneferu at 
dahsuur, was robbed. However no tomb of 
Hetepheres has yet been found at Dahshur, 
and indeed the only evidence for her existence 
derives from Tomb g7000x. This has led Mark 
Lehner to suggest that the Giza shaft tomb 
was in fact the queen’s original place of burial 
but that her body and the majority of the 
equipment were reburied under Gi-a, the first 
of the ‘satellite pyramids’ to the east of 
Khufu’s main pyramid. This theory might also 
explain the damage inflicted on the sarcopha¬ 
gus, pottery and furniture of the original 
tomb. It is still not clear, however, why the 

canopic chest was not removed, although it is 
possible that g7000x was fell to be so close to 
the satellite pyramid as not to require the 
transfer of canopic equipment. Ironically, it 
was probably the lack of a superstructure that 
helped to preserve the original burial, w hereas 
pyramid Gi-a was robbed in ancient times. 

The careful restoration of the finds (now in 
the Egyptian Museum, Cairo) has yielded 
some of the best evidence for funerary equip¬ 
ment during the Old Kingdom, providing 
insights into the likely wealth of a full royal 
burial of the period. The items of gilded 
wooden furniture included a carrying chair, a 
bed and an elaborate canopy that would prob¬ 
ably have been erected over the bed. 

G. A. Reisner and W. S. Smith, A history of the 
Giza necropolis It: The tomb of Hetepheres, the 
mother of Cheops (Cambridge, ALA, 1955). 

M. Lehner, The pyramid tomb of Hetep-heres and 
the satellite pyramid of Khufu (Mainz, 1985). 

Hiba, el- (anc. Teudjoi; Ankyronpolis) 
Settlement site incorporating a poorly pre¬ 
served temple of ‘Amun of the crag’ (or ‘Amun 
great of roarings’), constructed by Sheshonq i 
(945-924 bc). From the late 20th to the 22nd 
Dynasty (1100-715 bc), the town of Teudjoi 
functioned as an important frontier fortress 
between the zones controlled by the cities of 
Herakleopolis Magna and Hermopolis Magna. 
Large numbers of bricks from the enclosure 
wall w r ere stamped with the names of 
Pinudjem t and Menkheperra, who were 
powerful Theban chief priests of Amun-Ra 
in the early 21 st Dynasty (r.1050 bc.) who 
presumably established a residence at el-Hiba. 

After a period of decline during the Late 
Period (747-332 bc) the town regained its 
importance under the name of Ankyronpolis 
in the Greco-Roman period (r.304 bc-ad 395), 
when it once more developed into a military 
settlement. The earliest excavations at el-Hiba 
concentrated either on the cemeteries, where 
there were caches of Greek and demotic 
papyri, or on the Greco-Roman areas of the 
town. In 1980, however, the American archae¬ 
ologist Robert Wenke conducted a surface sur¬ 
vey of the entire site, including test excava¬ 
tions within the settlement, which indicate 
that Teudjoi was founded at least as earlv as 
the New Kingdom. 

B. Grenfell and A. Hunt, The Hibeh papyri l 
(London, 1906). 

LI. Ranke, Koptische Friedhofe bei Karara and der 
Amontempel Scheschonks l. bei el 11ibe (Berlin, 

E. G. Turner, The Hibeh papyri n (London, 


R. J. Wenke, Archaeological investigations at el- 
ITibeh 1980: Preliminary report (Malibu, 1984). 

Hierakonpolis (Kom el-Ahmar; anc. 


Settlement and necropolis, 80 km south of 
Luxor, which was particularly associated with 
the hawk-god HORUS, the Greek name of the 
town meaning ‘city of the hawk/falcon’. It 
flourished during the late Predynastic and 
Early Dynastic periods (r.4000-2686 bc). One 

Plan showing the location of the principal 
settlement and cemetery areas of Hierakonpolis. 




of the most important discoveries in the 
Predvnastic cemetery is Tomb 100, a late 
Gerzean brick-lined burial which was the first 
Egyptian tomb to be decorated with wall- 
paintings (see art), but the location of this so- 
called Painted Tomb is no longer known. The 
poorly recorded excavation of the town of 
Hierakonpolis undertaken by James Quibcll 
and F. W. Green included the discovery of the 
‘Main Deposit’, a stratum between two walls 
relating to an Old Kingdom temple complex 
within the settlement. The Main Deposit 
seems to have consisted primarily of ceremo¬ 
nial objects dating to the Protodynastic period 
(r.3000 bc), including the narmer palette and 
scorpion macehead. However, because of a 
lack of accurate published plans and strati¬ 
graphic sections, the true date and significance 
of this crucial Protodynastic assemblage 
remain unclear. Further survey and excava¬ 
tions at Hierakonpolis took place in the 1970s 
and 1980s, not only identifying a range of 
Predvnastic sites in the desert surrounding the 
town but also shedding further light on socio¬ 
economic patterning of the Early Dynastic 
town and identifying the only known example 
of a Predvnastic shrine. The so-called ‘fort’ of 
khaskkhemwy has now been identified as a 
‘funerary enclosure’ like the Shunet el-Zebib 

J. E. Qlibeu. and F. W. Green, Hierakonpolis, 2 
vols (London, 1900-2). 

B. J. Kemp, ‘Photographs of the decorated tomb 
at Hierakonpolis’, JEA 59 (1973), 36-43. 

B. Adams, Ancient Hierakonpolis (Warminster, 

M. A. Hoffman et al., ‘A model of urban 
development for the I Iierakonpolis region from 
predvnastic through Old Kingdom times’, 
JARCE 23 (1986), 175-87. 

B. Adams, The fort cemetery at Hierakonpolis 
(excavated by John Garslang) (London, 1988). 

hieratic (Greek hieratika : ‘sacred’) 

Script dating from the end of the Early 
Dynastic period (r.2686 bc) onwards. The 
essentially cursive hieratic script was based on 
the hieroglyphic symbols that had emerged 
some five centuries earlier, but it should not be 
confused with ‘cursive hieroglyphs’, which 
were used for most of the Pharaonic period in 
such religious writings as the coffin texts 
and the book of Tin: dead. Hieratic was always 
written from right to left, whereas the orienta¬ 
tion of cursive hieroglyphs varied. Until the 
11th Dynasty (2055-1985 bc) hieratic docu¬ 
ments were arranged mainly in columns, but 
most texts from the 12th Dynasty (1985-1795 
bc) onwards consisted of horizontal lines. It 
was also in the Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 

''.XT yrruJt,’JLLs.t^' W- V!< ! ds.i ™ A 

One sheet of the Great Harris Papyrus, a hieratic 
document consisting of a list of temple endowments 
and a short summary of the reign of Raineses til. 

It is the longest surviving papyrus roll , measuring 
-11 m. Reign of Raineses tv. c A ISO BC,from 
Thebes , it. 42.5 cm. (e\9999, sheet 75) 

bc) that hieratic began to be written in differ¬ 
ent styles, ranging from the rapid ‘business’ 
hand to the more aesthetically pleasing 'liter¬ 
ary’ hand. 

With the development of hieratic, scribes 
were able to write more rapidly on papyri and 
ostraca, and this script - rather than the more 
cumbersome hieroglyphs - became the pre¬ 
ferred medium for scribal tuition (see educa¬ 
tion). There was also an even more cursive 
form of the script known as ‘abnormal hierat¬ 
ic’, which was used for business texts in 
Upper Egypt during the Third Intermediate 
Period (1069-747 bc). By the 26th Dynasty 
(664—525 bc) the demotic: script had emerged 
out of the so-called ‘business hieratic’ of 
Lower Egypt. 


G. Moller, Hieratische Lcsestiicke , 3 vols 
(Leipzig, 1909-10). 

—, Hieratische Paldographie, 3 vols (Leipzig, 

R. J. Williams, ‘Scribal training in ancient 
Egypt’, JAOS92 (1972), 214-21. 

W.V. Da\ IES, Egyptian hieroglyphs (London, 
1987), 21-3. 

hieroglyphs (Greek: ‘sacred carved [letters|') 
The Egyptian hieroglyphic script, consisting 
of three basic types of sign (phonograms, 
logograms and ‘determinatives’) arranged in 
horizontal and vertical lines, was in use from 
the late Gerzean period (c.3200 bc) to the late 
fourth century ad. The last known datable 
hieroglyphic inscription, on the gate of 
Hadrian at Philae, was carved on 24 August ad 
394. The apparently low level of literacy in 
Pharaonic Egypt (estimated at perhaps as low 
as 0.4 per cent of the population) has led to the 
suggestion that hieroglyphic texts were 
employed by the elite as a means of restricting 
knowledge and power. 

The decipherment of hieroglyphs by Jean- 
Francois champollion, primarily through his 
examination of the trilingual decree inscribed 
on the ROSETTA STONE, was undoubtedly the 
single greatest event in the development of 
Egyptology, providing the key to an under¬ 
standing of the names, history and intellectual 
achievements of the ancient Egyptians. 

Painted hieroglyphs on the interior of the outer 
coffin of the physician Seni. Middle Kingdom, 
c .2000 bc, painted wood, from Deir el-Bersha, 

H. 15 cm. (e <30841) 




Hieroglyphs were primarily used as descrip¬ 
tive components of the carved reliefs decorat¬ 
ing temples and funerary monuments. It was 
felt that the hieroglyphic names of gods, 
people and animals were as capable of posing 
a threat as the living entity itself - for this 
reason many of the signs in the pyramid texts 
and some coffin texts were deliberately 
abbreviated and mutilated in order to neutral¬ 
ize any potential dangers within the royal 

Although a total of more than six thousand 
hieroglyphic signs have been identified, the 
majority of these were introduced during the 
Ptolemaic and Roman periods. In the 
Pharaonic period fewer than a thousand sym¬ 
bols are attested, and an even smaller number 
were in regular use. There was a nucleus of 
frequent basic signs, and others were evident¬ 
ly invented and introduced as they became 
necessary, sometimes providing an indication 
of changes in material culture. The signs were 
written in continuous lines without any punc¬ 
tuation or spaces to show where words or sen¬ 
tences began or ended. The orientation of the 
letters was usually towards the right, so that 
the text was read from right to left and top to 
bottom, although in certain instances (such as 
the engraving of two symmetrical inscriptions 
on either side of a stele or relief) the orienta¬ 
tion was from left to right. 

As in Egyptian art, the individual signs of 
the hieroglyphic script are essentially dia¬ 
grams of the phenomenon or entity in ques¬ 
tion; whether the sign is representing a loaf of 
bread, an owl or a human figure, it was intend¬ 
ed that the ideogram should consist of the 
most characteristic and visually familiar ele¬ 
ments of its physical appearance - thus most 
birds are shown completely in profile, but one 
exception is the owl, which, because of its dis¬ 
tinctive eyes, has its face shown frontally. 

The logograms and determinatives in 
hieroglyphic script were both essentially 
depictions of the things that they represented: 
thus logograms were individual signs whose 
meaning was broadly equivalent to their 
appearance (i.e. a shorthand diagram of the 
sky meant ‘skv’). Determinatives were pic¬ 
tures of types of things, placed at the ends of 
words made up of phonograms in order to 
indicate what types of words they were (i.e. 
the verb mesheb , meaning ‘to answer’, was fol¬ 
lowed by a sign consisting of a man holding 
his hand to his mouth). The phonograms con¬ 
sist of three types: twenty-six uniconsonantal 
signs (each representing a single consonant, 
e.g. the quail-chick sign, pronounced w), 
about a hundred biconsonantal signs (pairs of 
consonants, such as the diagram of a house- 

plan, which was pronounced pr), and forty to 
fifty triconsonantal signs (e.g. the logogram 
representing the adjective ‘good’, which was 
pronounced nfr). 

The main problem encountered in pro¬ 
nouncing a section of hieroglyphic text is that 
there were no vowels in the written form of 
ancient Egyptian, only consonants. The study 
of the COPTIC, language (which evolved out of 
the ancient Egyptian language), as well as var¬ 
ious surviving transliterations of Egyptian 
words into other ancient scripts (such as 
ASSYRIAN, BABYLONIAN and Greek), has enabled 
the ‘vocalization’ of many Egyptian words to 
be at least partially reconstructed. However, 
the conventional method of making the conso¬ 
nants pronounceable is to read the signs ‘ and 
3 as if they were the letter a, and to insert the 
letter e wherever necessary: thus the words s\ 
pr and nfr are conventionally pronounced as 
sa, per and infer. 

There were three basic stages in the devel¬ 
opment of the hieroglyphic script: early, mid¬ 
dle and late; it was highly conservative and 
continually lagged behind the spoken lan¬ 
guage in both vocabulary and syntax. A cru¬ 
cial distinction therefore needs to be made 
between the stages in the development of the 
language and the various phases of its written 
form. The language has one distinct break, in 
the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc), when 
‘synthetic’ Old and Middle Egyptian, charac¬ 
terized by inflected verb endings, was 
replaced, in the spoken language at least, by 
the ‘analytical’ form of Late Egyptian, with a 
verbal structure consisting of articulated ele¬ 
ments. Egyptian is the only ‘language of 
aspect’ for which the change from the ‘syn¬ 
thetic’ stage to ‘analytical’ can actually be 
studied in its written form. 

The hieroglyphic system was used for 
funerary and religious texts while the cursive 

hieratic script was used primarily for admin¬ 
istrative and literary texts. By the 26th 
Dynasty (664-525 bc) demotic had replaced 
hieratic, and for a number of centuries the 
Greek and demotic scripts were used side by 
side, eventually being superseded by COPTIC. 
See language for chart of hieroglyphs. 

See also funerary texts; libraries; litera¬ 

A. II. Gardiner, Egyptian grammar, being an 
introduction to the study of hieroglyphs, 3rd ed. 
(Oxford, 1957). 

C. A. Andrews, The Rosetta Stone (London, 1981). 
J. R. Baines, ‘Literacy and ancient Egyptian 
society’, Man 18 (1983), 572-99. 

J. D. Ray, ‘The emergence of writing in Egypt’, 
WA 17/3 (1986), 390-8. 

W. V. Davies, Egyptian hieroglyphs (London, 

II. G. Fischer and R. A. Caminos, Ancient 
Egyptian epigraphy and palaeography, 3rd cd. 
(New York, 1987). 


Riverine mammal that flourished in Egypt 
until well into Dynastic times. The date of its 
disappearance in Egypt is debatable, but it was 
certainly still present during the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc). Like the crocodile, 
the male hippopotamus was regarded as a nui¬ 
sance and a doer of evil, because it often tram¬ 
pled and devoured crops; a New Kingdom 
school text makes this clear: ‘Do you not recall 
the fate of the farmer when the harvest is reg¬ 
istered? The worm has taken half the grain, 
the hippopotamus has devoured the rest...’ It 
was probably for this reason that hippopota¬ 
mus hunts were organized as early as the pre¬ 
historic period. Many of the mastaba tombs of 
the Old Kingdom, such as that of the 5th- 
Dynasty official ty at Saqqara (no. 60), includ¬ 
ed depictions of the spearing of hippopotami. 




Such hunts might have given rise to a royal 
ceremony in which the king's ritual killing of a 
hippopotamus was symbolic of the overthrow 
of evil, as in the myth of iiorus and seth. In 
this myth, Horus was often portrayed in the 
act of harpooning Seth as a hippopotamus 
(although in other contexts Seth was depicted 
as a crocodile, an ass or a typhonian animal). 
This scene was frequently repeated on the 
walls of temples, most notably that of Horus at 
EDi'L, as well as in tomb scenes and in the form 
of royal funerary statuettes such as those 
showing Tutankhamun with his harpoon and 
coils of rope. 

However, the female hippopotamus had a 
beneficent aspect, in the form of taweret (‘the 
great [female] one’), the pregnant hippopota¬ 
mus-goddess who was among the most popu¬ 
lar of the household gods, and particularly 
associated with women in childbirth. In 
Plutarch's version of the myth of Horus and 
Seth, Taweret was the consort of Seth, who 
deserted him for Horus. 

During the Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 
bc), large numbers of blue faience figurines of 
hippopotami were created, probably for 
funerary use, although their popularity with 
art collectors is such that few have been 
obtained from archaeological excavation, 
therefore their provenances are poorly 
known. It is usually assumed, however, that 
these statuettes, whose bodies are frequently 
decorated w ith depictions of vegetation, w ere 
associated with fertility and the regenerative 
effect of the Nile. 

T. Save-Soderbergh, On Egyptian representations 
of hippopotamus hunting as a religious motive 
(Uppsala, 1953). 

II. Kf.ks, ‘Das “Fest der Weissen” und die Stadt 
Sm\ZAS 83 (1958), 127-9. 

A. Behrmann, Das Nilpferd in der l oslellungswelt 
der Allen Agypten i (Frankfurt, 1989). 

history and historiography 

Defining Egyptian history is as difficult a task 
as defining Egyptian ‘literature’; in both cases, 
modern scholars are inevitably attempting to 
impose upon the Egyptian sources modern 
concepts and categories that would often have 
had no real meaning or relevance to the 
ancient writers. The types of ancient Egyptian 
texts that are usually described as ‘historical’ 
would have had a very different function when 
they were originally composed (see, for 
instance, king lists); they therefore have to be 
carefully interpreted if genuinely ‘historical’ 
data are to be extracted from them. 

The Canadian Egyptologist Donald 
Redford defines true history as ‘the telling of 
events involving or affecting human beings 

(not necessarily, though usually, in narrative 
form), which took place prior to the time of 
composition, the chief aim of which is to 
explain those events for the benefit, predilec¬ 
tion and satisfaction of contemporaries, and 
not for the enhancement of the writer’s per¬ 
sonal reputation’. In fact William Haves sug¬ 
gests, in the Cambridge Ancient History , that 
there are only four surviving Egyptian histor¬ 
ical texts that would conform to a definition 
such as that given by Redford: these are the 
stelae of (c. 1555-1550 bc.), describing 
his battles against the Hyksos; the Annals of 
Thntmose rn (1479-1425 bc), describing his 
campaigns in Svria-Palestine; and the 
Victory Stele of piy (747—716 bc), describing 
his conquest of Egypt. Redford adds to these 
Hatshepsut’s speech inscribed in the speos 
artemidos rock-temple, a possibly fictional 
speech made by ra.vie.sks ill (1184-1153 bc) at 
the end of the Great Harris Papyrus and 
Osorkon’s description of the Theban rebel¬ 
lions in the Third Intermediate Period 
(1069-747 bc). A further text which may now 
be added to this list is a fragment of the 
annals of amknemiiat ii (1922-1878 bc), dis¬ 
covered at Memphis in the mid-1950s but not 
published until 1980, which shows that some¬ 
thing approximating to the modern concept 
of a historical record (although lacking any 
analytical component) was already being- 
compiled in the Middle Kingdom (2055— 
1650 bc), in the form of detailed records of 
the political and religious events from each 
year of a king’s reign. 

However, notwithstanding the few excep¬ 
tions listed above, the vast majority of such 
narrative-structured and ceremonial texts 
surviving from Egypt were concerned much 
more with preserving and transmitting 
national traditions or with performing a par¬ 
ticular religious or funerary role, rather than 
being attempts to present objective accounts 
of the past. Even the supposedly historical 
fragments of Egyptian texts such as the 
Kamose stelae, the Speos Artemidos ‘speech’ 
and the Annals of Thntmose tit are effectively 
components of the temples in which they 
were found: they therefore differ consider¬ 
ably from the true historical tradition inau¬ 
gurated by the Greek historian HERODOTUS 
(c.484-c.420 bc) in that they incorporate a 
high degree of symbolism and pure ritual. In 
their cult of the king’s personality they are 
closer to the Res gestae glorifying the deeds 
of the Roman emperor Augustus than the 
more ‘journalistic’ histories written by 
Thucydides or Tacitus, in which the stated 
aim at least is to present the objective truth 
about past events. 

The contents of most of the monumental 
texts and reliefs on the walls of Egyptian 
tombs and temples are much closer to the 
symbolic and static world of myth than to his¬ 
tory. There is a common tendency to regard 
myth as a form of ‘primitive history', but this 
is rarely the case. Redford makes a good dis¬ 
tinction between myth and history: ‘The 
meaning of myths has nothing to do with their 
having occurred in the past, but rather with 
their present significance...Horus’s champi¬ 
oning of his father, the upliftings of Shu, the 
murder of Osiris - these are all primordial 
events, timeless and ever-present; and neither 
king nor priest who re-enacts them can be said 
to fulfil an historic role, or to be commemorat¬ 
ing “history”’. 

L. Bull, ‘Ancient Egypt’, The idea of history in 
the . Indent Near East, ed. J. Obermann (New 
Haven and London, 1955). 

D. B. Redford, Pharaonic king-lists, annals and 
day-books: a contribution to the study of the 
Egyptian sense of history (Mississauga, 1986). 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trails. E. Bredcek 
(New York, 1992), 147-64. 

J. Malek, ‘The annals of Amenemhat ii’, Egyptian 
Archaeology 2 (1992), 18. 


People of somew hat obscure origins, described 
by the Egyptians as Kheta, who settled in 
Anatolia in the third millennium bc. Although 
they themselves were speakers of an Indo- 
European language, in time their empire 
absorbed the Hurrian-speaking people of 
MITANNI, and the AKKADIAN language w as fre¬ 
quently used for diplomatic and commercial 

During the Hittite Old Kingdom 
(f. 1750-1450 bc), the nucleus of the state was 
established in central Anatolia, with its capital 
initially at Kussara and later at the better- 
known site of Boghazkoy (ancient Hattusas). 
By the sixteenth century bc: they had con¬ 
quered Syria, and at one stage the empire 
stretched as far south as BABYLON. 

During this period of imperial expansion 
(r. 1450—1200 bc) the Hittites appear to have 
concentrated on reinforcing their grip over 
northern Syria, thus displacing the 
Mitannians and bringing them into direct 
conflict with ASSYRIA and Egypt. 

The most famous of their military con¬ 
frontations with Egypt took place during the 
early reign of Rameses n (1279—1213 bc), cul¬ 
minating in the battle of qadesii in 1274 bc, 
which was commemorated on many ot 
Rameses’ temples. The stalemate that resulted 
from this battle, in which both Rameses and 
the Hittite king Muwatallis appear to have 




claimed victory, eventually led to the signing 
of a peace treaty in the twenty-first year of 
Raineses' reign. This document is preserved 
both on Egyptian monuments and on 
Akkadian cuneiform tablets from Boghazkov. 
Rameses cemented the alliance by marrying a 
Hittite princess, an act that was celebrated by 
the Hittite marriage stele at Abu Simbel. This 
was not, however, the first attempt to link the 
two great powers. A letter discovered in the 
Hittite archives is believed to have been sent 
by a royal woman of the late Amarna period 
(perhaps Ankhesenamun, widow of 
tutankhamun), requesting the Hittite king 
Suppiluliumas I to send one of his sons to be 
her husband. The prince in question, however, 
was murdered en route to Egypt and the pro¬ 
posed marriage seems never to have taken 

It was also during the Hittite imperial phase 
that a closely guarded technique for smelling 
IRON was discovered, and iron is certainly one 
of the commodities mentioned in the armarna 
LETTERS as being imported into Egypt in small 
quantities. An iron dagger in the tomb of 
Tutankhamun no doubt derived from the same 
source. Even among the Hittites themselves, 
iron seems to have been regarded as an 
extremely precious metal, suitable only for 
prestige goods. 

The Anatolian heartland of the Hittite 
empire finally began to disintegrate in the late 
thirteenth century BC, perhaps as a result of 
the appearance of the SEA peoples whose 
migrations also threatened Egypt. This left 
only the rump of their empire in Syria, con¬ 
sisting of a group of ‘Neo-Hittite’ city-states 
which were finally absorbed by Assyria in the 
eighth century bo. 

J. Vergote, Toulankhamon dam les archives 
hittites (Istanbul, 1961). 

K. A. Kitchen, Suppiluliuma and the Amarna 
pharaohs (Liverpool, 1962). 

—, Pharaoh triumphant: the life anil times of 
Ramcsses it (Warminster, 1982), 74—95. 

J. G. MaCQUEEN, The Hittites and their 
contemporaries in Asia Minor , 2nd ed. (London, 

O. R. Gurney, The Hittites , 2nd ed. 

(Harmon ds worth, 1990). 

Hiw-Semaina region (Diospolis Parva) 
Group of predynastic, Pharaonic and 
Roman-period sites on the east bank of the 
Nile in Upper Egypt. The Hiw-Semaina 
region, which was surveyed and excavated by 
Flinders Petrie in 1898-9, stretches for about 
15 km along either side of the modern el- 
Ranan canal, from the village of Hiw in the 
southwest to Semaina in the northeast. It was 

The Hiw-Semaina region. 

the excavation report on the Predynastic 
cemeteries of Abadiya and Hiw that formed 
the basis for Petrie’s compilation of the first 
relative chronology of the late predynastic 
PERIOD (Naqada i-ii), which is still largely 

In 1989 Kathryn Bard conducted a new 
survey of the area, relocating some of these 
cemeteries and finding that the Predynastic 
Cemeteries L and R and the Old Kingdom 
mastaba at Cemetery a had been destroyed. 
She also re-examined a few surviving patches 
of Predynastic settlement that Petrie had men¬ 
tioned only briefly in his report. At site ‘sii’, 
an area of late Predynastic settlement which 
Bard discovered near Semaina and beside 
Petrie’s Cemetery it, another surface survey 
revealed widespread traces of stone-working, 
suggesting that the Hiw-Semaina region may 
have been a Predynastic centre for stone vessel 

W. M. F. PETRIE, Diospolis Parva: the cemeteries of 
Ahadiyeh and Hu (London, 1901). 

K. Bard, ‘Predynastic settlement patterns in the 
Iliw-Semainch region, Upper Egypt’, Nyame 
Akuma 32 (1989), 2-4. 

Horapollo (fourth century ad) 

Supposedly a native of Upper Egypt, whose 
work, the Hieroglyphic claimed to be an 
explanation of the symbolic meaning of vari¬ 
ous hieroglyphic signs, derived directly from 
ancient Egyptian sources. The original was 
probably written in COPTIC, although the work 
is known only from Greek translations. 
Although the meanings of many signs were 
correctly identified by Horapollo, the allegori¬ 
cal reasons that he gives for their meanings are 

often fantastic. The llieroglyphica was redis¬ 
covered in the fourteenth century ad and 
exerted great influence on the scholars of 
Renaissance Europe, forming the basis of G. P. 
Valeriano Bolzoni’s Hieroglyphica, which first 
appeared in 1556 and was reprinted and 
enlarged on several occasions. Unfortunately 
it was the allegorical and symbolic aspects of 
Horapollo’s work that led scholars such as 
Athanasius Kircher (1602-80) to regard 
hieroglyphs as a symbolic language, a view 
which retarded the decipherment of the script 
for many years. Even in the nineteenth centu¬ 
ry a number of scholars, such as Gardner 
WILKINSON, were still being misled by 
Horapollo and thus frustrated in their attempts 
at decipherment. 

II. R. Hall, ‘Letters to Sir William Gell from 
Henry Salt, (Sir) J. G. Wilkinson, and Baron von 
Bunsen’,2 (1915), 133-67. 

Horemakhet see horizon and iiorus 

Horemheb (1323-1295 bc) 

General and 18th-Dynasty pharaoh, whose 
rule represented a return to comparative nor¬ 
mality after the amarna period. His military 
career probably began during the reign of 
akhenaten (1352-1336 bc), when he was per¬ 
haps known by the earlier name of 
Paatenemheb, although this is disputed by 
many Egyptologists. Little is known of his 
background apart from the fact that his family 
came from Herakleopolis. His wife 
Mutnedjmet may possibly have been neff.rti- 
ti’s sister, in which case she may have bol¬ 
stered his claims to the throne. By the reign of 
tutankhamun (1336-1327 bc) he had risen to 
a position of great power as generalissimo and 
began work on his tomb at saqqara, the 




Memphite necropolis. This tomb was first 
located by the German archaeologist Richard 
Lepsius in the nineteenth century and exca¬ 
vated by an Anglo-Dutch expedition during 
the late 1970s. Its painted relief scenes, frag¬ 
ments of which are spread through the collec¬ 
tions of many different museums, depict 
scenes of his triumphant return from military 
campaigns, as he attempted to restore the 
Egyptian empire in Nubia and the Levant. 
When he succeeded ay (1327—1323 bc:) on the 
throne he undertook numerous construction 
works at the temples of karnak and luxor, 
and at gebel el-silsila he created a speos 

On an administrative level he introduced 
numerous reforms designed primarily to 
decentralize the government, and he erected a 
stele in the temple ol Mut at Karnak bearing 
an inscription outlining his plans for the 
restoration of order after the depredations of 
the Amarna period. It was during Horemheb’s 
reign that the dismantling of Akhenaten’s tem¬ 
ples to the ATEN began, although it is possible 
that the destruction of the royal tomb at el- 
Amarna took place slightly later, in the early 
Ramesside period. 

He usurped Ay’s mortuary temple in the 
vicinity of medinet habl in western Thebes 
and constructed a new royal tomb for himself in 

the Valley of the Kings, abandoning his virtual¬ 
ly completed private tomh at Saqqara. The 
Theban tomb (k\ 57) was innovative both in its 
decoration (sunk relief scenes from the Book of 
Gates) and in its architectural style, consisting of 
a single straight corridor with side-chambers, 
rather than the bent-axis style of the previous 
18th-Dynasty royal tombs. In the burial cham¬ 
ber his red granite sarcophagus remains in situ , 
but the mummy has not survived. 

R. Hari, Horemheb et la reive Moutnedjmet , on la 
fin d'une dynastic (Geneva, 1965). 

E. Hornung and F. Tkichmann, Das Grab des 
Haremhab im Tal der Konige (Berne, 1971). 

J.-M. Kruqiten, Le decret d'Horemheb: 
traduction, commentaire epigraphique, philologique 
et institutionnel (Brussels, 1981). 

G. T. Martin, The Memphite tomb of Horemheb 
(London, 1989). 


The Egyptian hieroglyph denoting the hori¬ 
zon ( akhet ) was essentially a schematic depic¬ 
tion of the two mountains between which the 
sun rose, indicating that the horizon was 
regarded as the home of the sun-god. One 
aspect of the god iiorls, who was closely asso¬ 
ciated with the sun cult, was therefore 
described as Horemakhet (‘Horus in the hori¬ 
zon’). As the place of sunrise and sunset the 

LErr Door-jamb from the tomb of Horemheb, with 
carved relief showing the king in an altitude of 
adoration. 18th Dynasty, c. 1300 bc, it. (inc. 
restoration) 1.83 m. (eaSSO) 

BELOW Scribe statue of Horemheb. 18tlt Dynasty, 
c .1300 bc. it. 1.17m. (neh yore, metropolitix 
museum, 23.10.1) 

horizon was also considered to be protected 
by AKER, a god personified by a pair of lions 
sometimes replacing the mountains i n 
amulets depicting the horizon. It was perhaps 
this link between the lions and the horizon 
which led to the Great Sphinx at Giza being 
regarded as the principal manifestation of 

The appearance of the horizon was often 

Amulet in the form oj the akhet hieroglyph 
representing the horizon. (ea 8300 ) 

imitated in the iconography and forms of 
Egyptian art and architecture, from the god¬ 
dess of the horizon, w hose two breasts some¬ 
times replaced the mountains on either side of 
the sun, to the tw in towers of pylons, which 
formed part of the transformation of temples 
into metaphors for the cosmos. 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 134-5. 


The domesticated horse was introduced into 
Egypt from western Asia in the Second 
Intermediate Period (1650-1550 bc) at rough¬ 
ly the same time as the chariot, although a 
horse skeleton excavated at buiien may date as 
early as the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bo). 
Several horse burials have been excavated at 
tell el-dab‘a, the site of the hyksos capital 

Unlike donkeys, which w r ere used for agri¬ 
cultural work from at least the beginning of 
the Pharaonic period (r.3100 bc), horses w ere 
essentially status symbols, used for such activ¬ 
ities as hun ting, wareare and ceremonial pro¬ 
cessions. They were almost always used to pull 
chariots rather than being ridden, although 
battle scenes in the New' Kingdom (1550—1069 
bc) occasionally show individual soldiers 
mounted on them. On the basis of surviving 
chariot yokes it has been calculated dial the 
average height would have been around 1.35 
m, although some surviving examples were 
evidently taller, such as the 1.5-m-high skele¬ 
ton found in front of the tomb of sem.wilt 
(tt71). By the end of the 18th Dynasty 
(1550-1295 bc), horses were firmly established 
as prestige gifts between rulers in north Africa 
and the Near East, but they seem to have been 
particularly prized by the Kushite kings of the 




right Relief block from el-Amarna bearing a 
depiction of a pair of horses, which probably 
originally formed pari of a depiction of a royal 
chariot procession. 18th Dynasty , c. 1350 bc, 

l. 1979.8.19) 

25th Dynasty (747-656 bc), who had several 
horses interred beside their pyramidal tombs 
at ei.-klrru and xuri. 

A. R. Schulman, ‘Egyptian representations of 
horsemen and riding in the New Kingdom 1 , 
JNES 10(1957), 267-70. 

M. A. Littauer and J. II. Crolwkl, Wheeled 
vehicles and ridden animals in the Ancient Near 
East (Leiden and Cologne, 1979). 

L. Storck, 'Pferd 1 , Lexikon der Agypto/ogie i\, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1982), 1009-13. 

R. and J. Janssen, Egyptian household animals 
(Aylesbury, 1989), 38-43. 

C. Rommelaerf., Les chevaux da j Motive/ Empire 
Egypt ten (Brussels, 1991). 

Horus (Haroeris, Harpocrates, Harsomtus, 
Horemakhet, Ra-Horakhty) 

FALCON-god whose name is attested from at 
least as early as the beginning of the Dynastic 
period (r.3100 bc). Although not actually 
named as such, it is probably the Horus-falcon 
who was depicted on the ‘Battlefield’ and 
‘Narmer’ ceremonial palettes, apparently 
subjugating his enemies in the battles leading 
to the unification of Egypt. In addition, the 
TURIN ROYAL canon (a 19th-Dynasty king list) 
describes the Predynastic rulers of Egypt as 
‘followers of Horus’. 

Usually depicted as a hawk or as a man 
with the head of a hawk, Horus was not only 
a god of the sky but the embodiment of 
divine kingship and protector of the reigning 
pharaoh. Gradually the cults of other hawk- 
gods merged with that of Horus, and a com¬ 
plex array of myths became associated with 
him. According to one of the most common 
myths, he was the child of the goddess rsis, 
and in this role (later known as Harpocrates) 
he was usually depicted in human form with 
the side lock of youth and a finger to his 
mouth, often being seated on his mother's lap 
(particularly in amulets and bronze votive 

From the Late Period to the Roman period 
(747 bc-ad 395) a new vehicle for the image of 
Horus, the cippus , became popular. This was a 
form of protective stele or amulet showing the 
naked child-god Horus standing on a croco¬ 
dile and holding snakes, scorpions, lions or 
other animals in his outstretched arms. On 
such cippi Horus was also sometimes associat¬ 

ed with other deities. The purpose of the cip- 
pus seems to have been to provide healing pow¬ 
ers to combat such problems as snake bites or 
scorpion stings. 

As a son of Isis and OSIRIS, Horus was also 
worshipped under the name of Harsiese, the 
god who performed the rite of opening of the 
MOUTH on his dead father, thus legitimizing 
his succession to the throne as earthly ruler. In 
a similar vein, as Horus Iun-mutef, priests or 
eldest sons wearing panther-skin costumes 
would ritually purify the path of the 
deceased’s coffin. 

Cippus or ‘Horus stele', showing Horus as a child 
with the power to overcome harmful forces. Like 
New Kingdom examples, this item is of wood, but 
the prominent Bes head and three-dimensional 
representation of the child Horus point to the Late 
Period, when most examples were of stone. Late 
Period, after 600 bc, wood, from Memphis (?), 
it. 39 cm. (ea60958) 

The mythology of the Osirian Horus 
(rather than any of the other aspects of Horus) 
was principally concerned with his struggles 
to avenge the murder of his father Osiris and 
to claim his rightful inheritance, the throne of 
Egypt, by defeating the evil god SETl 1 . The lat¬ 
est narratives of the myth tend to combine 
several different traditions. In the first ver¬ 
sion, Seth was Horus’ uncle, whereas in the 
second version he was his brother. There are 
also differing accounts of their struggles or 
‘contendings’, w hich were associated with the 
myth of Horus even before the contendings 
became linked with the Osiris myth. The 
Shabaqo Stone (<\705 bc, now in the British 
Museum), a 25th-Dynasty inscription pur¬ 
porting to be a copy of an Old Kingdom text, 
describes the story of the earth-god geb judg¬ 
ing between the two and eventually awarding 
the throne to Horus. However, a more lively 
version is provided by the Ramesside Papyrus 
Chester Beatty i (Chester Beatty Library, 
Dublin), which details the varied, sometimes 
ludicrous, rivalry of Horus and Seth, includ¬ 
ing a race in boats of stone. In this version it is 
the sun-god ra who adjudicates at the end of 
an eighty-year contest, although as usual it is 
Horus who finally becomes king of Egypt. It is 
possible that these mythological contendings, 
an even later account of which is given by the 
Greek writer PLUTARCH, may reflect a distant 
memory of the struggles of the ‘two lands’ 
before unification, although few prehistorians 
would now attempt to use such comparatively 
recent documents to interpret the late 
Predynastic archaeological material (<-.3200- 
3100 bc). 

During his contendings with Seth, Horus is 
said to have lost his left eye (which represent¬ 
ed the moon), although fortunately the god¬ 
dess HATIIOR was able to restore it. The udjat- 
or wedjal-t ye (the ‘eye of Horus’) therefore 
came to symbolize the general process of 
‘making whole’ and healing, the term udjat 




literally meaning ‘sound’. It also represented 
the waxing and waning of the moon, and 
served as a metaphor for protection, strength 
and perfection; medjat-c ye amulets are 
extremely common. 

Since I lor us was a sky-god and a cosmogo¬ 
nic deity, his eyes were interpreted as the sun 
and moon, and he was frequently described in 
the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bg) as a god of 
the east, and hence of the sunrise. In this guise 
he became known as Horemakhet (‘Horus in 
the horizon’) and he was also merged with Ra, 
to become Ra-Horakhty. There were numer¬ 
ous forms of Horus throughout Egypt, but he 
is particularly associated with edfu, the site of 
the ancient city of Mesen. There was a temple 
of Horus at Edfu from at least as early as the 
New Kingdom, and in the well-preserved 
Ptolemaic temple he was worshipped as part 
of a triad with Hathor and their child 
Harsomtus. From at least as early as the 4th 
Dynasty Horus Khenty-Irty was worshipped 
at Letopolis (Kom Ausim) in the western 

Horus was also closely associated with i iii.r- 
akonpolis (literally ‘town of the hawk’) which 
was known as Nekhen during the Pharaonic 
period. From the temple at this site was exca¬ 
vated the golden falcon head (now in the 
Egyptian Museum, Cairo) which probably 
formed part of a cult image. In his role as 
Horus of Behdet, a town in the Delta, he was 
also portrayed as a winged sun-disc, an image 
that constantly recurred in the decoration of 
many other temples, harking back to his origi¬ 
nal manifestation as a god of the sky. 

See also kom ombo and sons of horus. 

G. Daressy, Texies el dessins magiques (Cairo, 
1903), 1-2. 

A. H. Gardiner, The Chester Beatty papyri I 
(London, 1931). 

—, ‘Horus the Behdetite’,_7£ / 30 (1944), 23-60. 
J. G. Griffiths, The conflict of Horus and Seth 
from Egyptian and Classical sources (Liverpool, 

H. VV. F airman. The triumph of Horus: an ancient 
Egyptian sacred drama (London, 1974). 

S. Quirkk, Ancient Egyptian religion (London, 
1992), 61-7. 

C. Andrews, Amulets of ancient Egypt (London, 
1994), 43-4. 

House of Life (Egyptian per ankh) 

Temple institution sometimes compared with 
a medieval scriptorium. Although usually 
associated with a religious institution, the 
House of Life differed from its monastic 
counterpart in that it was not simply a place 
where priests were trained in the reading and 
copying of sacred texts but apparently also a 

school for scribes and the children of the elite 
(see education). It is also likely that copies of 
such funerary texts as the book of tiie dead 
were produced for sale to private individuals. 
astronomy, geography, mathematics and 
LAW, as well as the interpretation of dreams, 
would have been taught in the House of Life, 
while priests would have had ample theologi¬ 
cal material to study. They would probably 
also have utilized the temple library, or 
House of Books (per medjat ), which would no 
doubt have been the principal source of the 
original documents copied by the pupils. The 
personnel of the House of Life also appear to 
have been concerned with MEDICINE, and it 
may be that the sanatoria associated with a 
number of later temples were connected in 
some way with the Houses of Life. 

The priests of the House of Life may also 
have been concerned with overseeing the work 
of temple craftsmen, and were perhaps 
involved in the design of new pieces for manu¬ 
facture. Houses of Life are recorded at 
Memphis, Akhmim, Abvdos, Koptos, Esna 
and Edfu and there must certainly have been 
examples at Thebes and elsewhere. The House 
of Life at el-amarna, a complex of mud-brick 
buildings in the centre of the city of 
Akhetaten, midway between the main temple 
and palace, was clearly indentifiable when 
excavated in the 1930s because the bricks were 
stamped with the words per ankh. In most 
other respects, however, these buildings were 
undistinctive, although significantly it was in 
these rooms that one of the rare fragments of 
papyrus at el-Amarna (part of a funerary text) 
was found. 

A. II. Gardiner, ‘The House of Life’, 24 
(1938), 157-79. 

A.Volten, Demotische Traumdeutung 
(Copenhagen, 1942), 17-44. 

J. D. S. Pendlebury, City oj'Akhenaten m/i 
(London, 1951), 115,150. 

E. Strouhal, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 235-41. 

houses see towns 


human sacrifice 

There is no certain evidence of the practice of 
human sacrifice in Egypt from the Old 
Kingdom (2686-2181 bc) onwards, although 
the practice is known from in Nubia at 
a time roughly contemporary with the Second 
Intermediate Period (1650—1550 bc). 

In the Protodynastic and Early Dynastic 
period (r. 3200-2686 bc), there may be archae¬ 
ological indications of the funerary sacrifice of 

servants. It has been argued that the apparent 
shared roof covering many ‘subsidiary burials’ 
surrounding the tombs of certain lst-Dvnastv 
rulers at Abvdos and Saqqara (3100-2890 bc) 
is an indication that large numbers of roval 
retainers were killed simultaneously in order 
to accompany the pharaoh into the afterlife. 
This practice would no doubt later have been 
superseded by the more widespread use of 
representations of servants at work (in the 
form of wall decoration and three-dimension¬ 
al models), and the eventual provision of 
siiabtj figures, whose role appears to have 
been to undertake agricultural work on behalf 
of the deceased. 

From the late Predynastic period onwards, 
votive objects and temple walls were frequent¬ 
ly decorated with scenes of the king smiling 
his enemies while gripping them by their hair, 
but these acts of ritual execution are usually 
depicted in the context of warfare. The actual 
sacrifice of prisoners at temples — as opposed 
to the depiction of foreigners as bound cap¬ 
tives - is attested by textual evidence from the 
reign of Amenhotep n (1427-1400 bc). He 
claims to have executed seven Syrian princes 
in the temple of Amun at Karnak, displaying 
the bodies of six of them on its walls, and 
hanging the body of the seventh on the walls 
of N A FATA. 

The tale of the 4th-Dvnasty ruler Khufu 
(2589—2566 bc) and the magician Djedi, com¬ 
posed in the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) 
and preserved on Papyrus Westcar (Berlin), 
provides a good illustration of the Egyptians’ 
apparent abhorrence of human sacrifice. 
Khufu is portrayed as a stereotypical tyrant 
who asks for a prisoner to be decapitated so 
that Djedi can demonstrate his magical ability 
to restore severed heads, but, according to the 
story, the magician insists that the demonstra¬ 
tion be made on a goose rather than a human. 

It is also w orth noting that the pa r amid 
texts include possible references to cannibal¬ 
ism in the form of the so-called ‘cannibal 
hymn’ (Utterances 273-4), which describes 
the king ‘eating the magic’ and ‘swallowing the 
spirits’ of the gods. However, it is difficuli to 
know in this instance whether the concept of 
the king eating the gods was purely metaphor¬ 
ical or based on some early sacrificial act. 

M. Liciitiiei.m, Ancient Egyptian literature I 
(Berkeley, 1975), 36-8, 217-20. [‘cannibalism 
hvmn' and Papyrus Westcar] 

A. J. Spencer, Early Egypt (London, 1993), 


Since humour and satire are both concerned 
with the subversion and undermining of the 




normal decorum of society, they are notoriously 
difficult to analyse or dissect in modern times, 
let alone in an ancient culture such as Pharaonic 
Egypt, when even the most basic framework of 
the system of decorum (or social mores) is not 
fully understood. Notwithstanding this basic 
problem, there are a few relatively unambigu¬ 
ous surviving examples of visual humour, such 
as the scene, among the reliefs in the temple of 
Hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc) at deir el-bahri, 
that portrays the overweight figure of the 
queen of punt followed by a small donkey, 
whose caption reads ‘the donkey that had to 
carry the queen 1 . The comic impact of this 
scene on ancient Egyptians is perhaps indicat¬ 
ed by the survival of an OSTRACON bearing a 
rough sketch of the queen clearly copied from 
the original. 

Such titles as Satire an the mules and Be a 
scribe are used by Egyptologists to describe 
particular ty pes of text from the Middle and 
New Kingdoms that poured scorn on all 
trades and professions other than that of the 
scribe. Although the Egyptian scribe’s superi¬ 
ority complex was so highly developed that 
parts of the ‘satires’ may even have been 
regarded as factual rather than ironic, there is 
undoubtedly a considerable element of comi¬ 
cal exaggeration and caricature in the descrip¬ 
tions of the various trades, providing a literary 
counterpart for the gentle visual mockery of 
some of the labourers depicted in private 

On the whole, there seem to have been rela¬ 
tively few outlets for humour within the con¬ 
fines of official funerary and religious art and 
literature; therefore most of the more light¬ 
hearted aspects of Egyptian culture tend to be 
restricted to the arena of rough sketches and 
OSTRACA, depicting such taboo subjects as a 
pharaoh with unseemly stubble on his chin. A 
large number of such sketches, however, fall 
into the category of ‘animal fables’, in which 
animals - particularly cats and mice — are 
depicted engaged in typical human activities 
such as beating captives, driving chariots or 
making obeisance to a ruler. In a few instances 
these scenes are portrayed on papyrus, as in the 
case of the so-called Satirical Papyrus (now in 
the British xMuscum), which dates to the late 
New Kingdom and includes scenes of a lion 
and antelope playing a board-game (see g ames 
for illustration) and a cat herding geese. It has 
been suggested that these images of animals 
may be all that survive of ‘beast fables’, 
although no literary counterparts have sur¬ 
vived, and there is currently no sure way of 
determining whether the pictures were either 
intended to bc humorous or connected in some 
way with such didactic writings as the Discourse 

of Ne/erty, in which the disintegration of soci¬ 
ety is described in terms of deliberate reversals 
and inversions of the natural world. 

S. Curto, La salira nell'antico Egitto (Turin, 

B. van df. Walle, Vkumour dans la litleralure et 
dans Bart de Tancienne Egypte (Leiden, 1969). 

Huni see mejdum and sneferu 


Although hunting in the Pharaonic period w as 
relatively unimportant as a means of subsis¬ 
tence, it still retained a great deal of ritualistic 
and religious significance. Two basic types of 
hunting were regularly represented on the 
walls of tombs and temples throughout the 
Pharaonic period: ‘fowling and fishing’ and 
‘big-game’, the former consisting primarily of 
small-scale fishing and bird-snaring on the 
banks of the Nile, and the latter consisting of 
the hunting of wild deer and lions in desert 
terrain, and bulls, crocodiles and hippopotami 
in the marshes. These two categories also cor¬ 
respond roughly to the private and royal 
domains, with scenes of ‘fowling and fishing in 
the marshes’ being a common component of 
private tomb decoration but only in one case 
appearing in a royal tomb (that of King ay, 
kv23 in the Valley of the Kings). 

By the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc;), 
descriptions of the pharaoh’s exploits as a 
hunter of such beasts as w ild bulls, lions, ele¬ 
phants and rhinoceroses formed an essential 
part of the characteristic Egyptian style of 
KINGSHIP. Two series of commemorative 
SCARABS of amemjotep til (1390-1352 bc.) were 

inscribed with detailed descriptions of his 
hunting of w ild bulls and lions, and the deco¬ 
ration of the first pylon of the mortuary tem¬ 
ple of Rameses m (1184-1153 bc) at medinet 
HABU includes a detailed depiction of the king 
and his soldiers hunting bulls. Such royal 
hunts appear to have taken place within delib¬ 
erately enclosed areas, so that the animals 
would have no escape, and the excavation of 
the New- Kingdom settlement at soleb in 
Nubia has yielded traces of post-holes which 
may well indicate the presence of an enclosure 
surrounding a large hunting park covering an 
area of 600 m x 300 m. There are also a few 
private tombs that show the deceased hunting 
wild game in the desert, thus providing the 
artists with a rare opportunity to depict the dis¬ 
tinctive savanna and desert landscapes in w hich 
the hunt occurred. 

Conversely, the simple netting of birds 
became an important part of temple decora¬ 
tion, with the king and various gods often 
being depicted hauling clap-nets containing 
both birds and beasts. Whereas the depictions 
of fowling in private tombs no doubt reflected 
the actual activities of the elite, the temple 
scenes are usually interpreted as allegories of 
the preservation of harmony by hunting dow n 
and suppressing evil and unstable phenomena 
(symbolized by the birds and animals strug¬ 
gling in nets). 

In the Old Kingdom, the pyramid com- 

Wall-paintingfrom the tomb-chapel of Nebamun, 
showing the deceased with his family hunting birds 
in the marshes. 18th Dynasty, c. 1400 nc, painted 
plaster, from Thebes, ft. 81 cm. (t:\37977) 




Relief decoration on the hack of the first pylon of 
the mortuary temple of Raineses in (1184-1153) 
at Mcdinet Halm, showing the king hunting wild 
hulls. Raineses is portrayed standing in his chariot 
and thrusting a long hunting spear at one of the 
bulls. The leading group of soldiers in the lower 
register are shown firing arrows, apparently 
engaged only in the more mundane pursuit of the 
birds andfish of the marsh-lands. (/. sum) 

plexes of Sahura (2487—2475 bc) and Pepv n 
(2278-2184 bc) contained depictions of the 
king hunting a hippopotamus rendered at a 
larger-than-life scale; the allegorical nature of 
these scenes, in terms of the king’s contain¬ 
ment of chaos, is demonstrated by the reliefs in 
the temple of horus at edit, which transform 
the act of binding and spearing a hippopota¬ 
mus into a dramatic re-enactment of the myth¬ 
ical conflict between the gods Homs and setli. 
T. Save-Soderbkrgh , On Egyptian representations 
oj hippopotamus hunting as a religious motive 
(Uppsala, 1953). 

J. Leclant, 4 Un pare dc chassc dc la Nubie 
pharaonique’, Le sol, la parole el I'ecrit: 2000 am 
d histoire africaine: melanges en hommage a 
Raymond Manny (Paris, 1981), 727—34. 

W. Decker, Sports and games of ancient Egypt , 
trans. A. Guttmann (New Haven, 1992), 


E. Strouhae, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 
1992), 118-22. 

husbandry see agriculture and animal 


Hyksos (Egyptian heka khasmt : ‘rulers of 
foreign lands’) 

Term used to refer to a Palestinian group (or 
perhaps only their rulers) who migrated into 
Egypt during the late Middle Kingdom 
(c. 1800-1650 bc.) and rose to power in Lower 
Egypt during the Second Intermediate 
Period (1650-1550 bc). It used to be assumed 
that the Hyksos conquered Egypt at the end 
of the 13th Dynasty, but it is now recognized 
that the process was probably far more grad¬ 
ual and peaceful; according to Donald 
Redford, ‘it is not unreasonable to assume 
that with the gradual weakening of royal 
authority, the Delta defenses were allowed to 
lapse, and groups of transhumants found it 

easy to cross the border and settle in Lower 
Egypt... Having persuaded oneself of this, 
the Hyksos assumption of power reveals itself 
as a peaceful takeover from w ithin by a racial 
element already in the majority.’ 

The Semitic names of such 15th-and 16th- 
Dynasty Hyksos rulers as Khvan, Joam and 
Jakbaal (c. 1650-1550 bc:) clearly indicate their 
non-Egyptian origins. A number of New 
Kingdom texts, including the Ramesside 
Papyrus Sallier i (cl220 bc), suggest that the 
Hyksos interlude was essentially the ruthless 
imposition of Asiatic culture on that of the 
native Egyptians, but these were undoubtedly 
biased accounts, and the archaeological c\ i- 
dence is considerably more ambiguous. 

The cemeteries, temples and stratified set¬ 
tlement remains at such eastern Delta sites as 
el-yailudiya include considerable quantities 
of Syro-Palestinian material dating to the 
Middle Bronze Age II period (c. 2000-700 bc), 
but the Hyksos kings themselves have left few 
distinctively ‘Asiatic’ remains. The small 
number of royal sculptures of the H\ksos 
period largely adhere to the monographic and 
stylistic traditions of the Middle Kingdom. 
There is some evidence to suggest that the 
rulers supported the traditional forms of 
government and adopted an Egvptian-si\le 
ROYAL titulary, although Manfred Bietak 
has discovered a door jamb at Tell el-Dab‘a 
bearing the name of the Hyksos king 
Sokarher with the title heka khaswt. Their 
major deity was SETH but they also wor¬ 
shipped other Egyptian gods as well as ynat 
and astarte, two closely related goddesses of 
Syro-Palestinian origin. Conventional forms 

.4 selection of scarabs dating to the Hyksos period. 





of Egyptian literature, such as the Rhind 
Mathematical Papyrus (see mathematics) 
continued to be composed or copied. 

Having established their capital at Avaris, 
they appear to have gradually spread west¬ 
ward, establishing centres such as tell el- 
YAHl'DiYA, and taking control of the important 
Egyptian city of Memphis. The discovery of a 
small number of objects inscribed with the 
names of Hyksos kings at sites such as 
Knossos, Baghdad and Boghazkdv (as well as 
the remains of Minoan frescos at 15th- 
Dynasty Avaris) suggest that the new rulers 
maintained trading links with the Near East 
and the Aegean. 

Seals at the Nubian site of KERMA bear the 
name Sheshi, apparently a corrupted form of 
Salitis, the earliest known Hyksos king. The 
presence of these seals probably indicates that 
there was an alliance between the Hyksos and 
the kingdom of Kerma, which would have 
helped them both to counter opposition in 
Upper Egypt, where a rival group, the 17th 
Theban Dynasty, were violently opposed to 
foreign rule. The Second Stele of kamose, 
describing one of the Theban campaigns 
against the Hyksos, includes clear references 
to a Nubian-Hvksos alliance by the end of the 
17th Dynasty. 

During the Hyksos period, greater use was 
made of morses, and their use in warfare was 
developed through the introduction of the 
chariot, which facilitated the development of 
new military techniques and strategies. The 
curved sword ( khcpesh) was introduced, along 
with body armour and helmets. Ironically, it 
was probably the adoption of such new mili¬ 
tary technology by the Thebans that helped 
their rulers to defeat the Hyksos, and to estab¬ 
lish AHMOSE I (1550-1525 bc) as the first king 
of the 18th Dynasty, and founder of the New 
Kingdom (1550-1060 bc). 

The grave goods in Upper Egyptian private 
cemeteries of the Hyksos period (such as 
Abydos and Qau) show great continuity with 
the pre-IIvksos period, suggesting that the 
cultural impact of the Hyksos rulers may have 
been restricted to the Delta region. Even sites 
in the Memphite region and the western Delta 
show few indications of Palestinian influence. 

It has also been suggested by Barry Kemp that 
the apparent ‘cultural hiatus’ in the Favum 
region during the Second Intermediate Period 
may simply be an indication of political dis¬ 
ruption in those areas which had previously 
had a strong association with the Middle 
Kingdom central administration. 

J. von Beckerath, Untersuchungen ztir politischen 
Geschichte der zweilen Zwischenzcit in Agypten 
(Gliickstadt and New York, 1965). 

J. V AN Sf.tkrs, The Hyksos, a new investigation 
(New Haven, 1966). 

B. J. Kemp, ‘Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom 
and Second Intermediate Period’, Ancient Egypt: 
a social history , B. G. Trigger ct al. (Cambridge, 
1983), 71-182. 

D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in 
ancient times (Princeton, 1992), 98—129. 

hymns and litanies 

One of the most common ty pes of religious 
text in ancient Egypt was the hymn, usually- 
consisting of a eulogy incorporating the 
names, titles and epithets of a deity'. The 
mythological details included in many hymns 
help to compensate for the general dearth of 
narrative-style myths in Egyptian literature. 

Hymns could be inscribed on the walls of 
both tombs and temples as well as on papyri; 
although they were generally intended to be 
recited as part of the ritual of a cult - Papyrus 
Chester Beatty i\ (recto, now in the British 
Museum), for instance, includes hymns to be 
sung by the worshippers in a temple-but they 
were sometimes composed simply as ‘literary'’ 
documents in their own right, as in the case of 
the Hymn to the Nile Inundation (one version 
of which is recorded on Papyrus Chester 
Beatty v). Often the function of the hymn can 
be difficult to ascertain: a cycle of five hymns 
to senusret til (1874—1855 bc:) were found in 
the town associated with his pyramid at ei- 
i.AIIUN, but it is not clear when they would 
have been recited, whether as part of the 
regular cult at the pyramid complex or on a 
special occasion such as the visit of the 
reigning king. 

Numerous funerary stelae were inscribed 
with hymns to OSIRIS, the god of the dead, and 

the Litany ofRa , a hymn to the sun-god, was 
inscribed in many Ramesside royal tombs in 
the \ ALLEY of THE kings'. Among the most 
poetic of the hymns to the sun was the Hymn 
to the Aten , the longest version of w hich was 
inscribed in the tomb of AY at el-amarna. Its 
description of the role of the aten in the sus¬ 
tenance of the world from dawn to sunset has 
often been compared with Psalm 104, 
although the undoubted similarities between 
the two compositions almost certainly result 
from a common literary heritage rather than - 
as some scholars have argued — from anv con¬ 
nection between the worship of the Aten and 
the origins of Jew ish monotheism. In addi¬ 
tion, it has often been pointed out that there is 
little in the Hymn to the Aten that does not 
already appear in earlier Egy ptian hymns to 
the sun-god. 

A. Bari ccyand E Dai m as, Hymnes et prieres de 
I’Egypte ancienne (Paris, 1980). 

M. Lichthkim, Ancient Egyptian literature ll 
(Berkeley, 1976), 81-118. 

P. Auffret, Hymnes d'Egypte el d'Israel: eludes de 
structures litteraires (Freiburg, 1981). 


Term used to describe a building that has no 
roof and is therefore open to the sky, as is the 
case in the Kiosk of Trajan at phjlae. 


Amuletic discs inscribed with extracts from 
Chapter 162 of the BOOK OF the dead and 
occasionally bearing vignettes representing 
certain deities. They were intended to ‘warm’ 
the head of the deceased. The earliest exam¬ 
ples simply consisted of pieces of inscribed 
papy rus, but the hypocephali proper consist of 

Hypocephalus ofNeshorpakhered, a 
temple musician, decorated with 
the profile figures of four 
baboons worshipping the sun. 
Late Period or Ptolemaic 
period, 4th-3rd centuries 
bc, plastered linen and 
pigment, from Thebes, 
t). 14 cm. (il i36I88) 




papyrus sheets mounted on small cartonnage 
discs, which have been discovered in a few 
tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664-525 bc 
onwards). There are also a few surviving 
examples made from metal. In keeping with 
their intended function, they were usually 
placed between the head of the mummified 
body and the funerary headrest. 

hypostyle hall 

Large temple court filled with columns, form¬ 
ing an essential element in Egyptian religious 
architecture, the name deriving from the 
Greek for ‘resting on pillars’. There was a dis¬ 
tinct transition from the pylon into the open 
courtyard and then into the hypostyle hall. 
The hall was crowded with pillars and lit only 
by clerestory windows in the uppermost part 
of the walls. The columns could be of varying 
diameter and height, although those lining the 
axis route of the temple were usually the tallest 
and broadest. It was not uncommon for a sin¬ 
gle temple to have two hypostyle halls. 

The symbolism expressed by the hypostyle 
hall is that of the reed swamp growing at the 
fringes of the primeval mound, since the 
entire TEMPLE was regarded as a microcosm of 
the process of creation itself. Beyond the hall, 
the roof of the temple invariably became lower 
and the floor higher, while the dimensions of 
the rooms grew smaller, until the sanctuary 
itself was reached. This cosmogonic symbol¬ 
ism is well illustrated in the temple of Amun at 
karnak, where a dense forest of 134 columns 
spring from bases reminiscent of the earth 
around the roots of papyrus plants. The great 
columns along the axis route are each 23 m in 
height, and end in massive open papyrus flow¬ 
ers, while the rest of the columns have closed 
papyrus bud capitals. 

In the temple of Khnum at ESNA, the 
‘swamp’ symbolism is reinforced by the carv¬ 
ing of insects on the column capitals. The 
architraves above the columns, as well as the 
ceiling itself, are representative of the sky (see 
ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY), while the lowest 
parts of the enclosing walls often bear scenes 
of rows of offering bearers walking along the 
ground surface. 

P. A. Spencer, The Egyptian temple: a 
lexicographical study (London, 1984). 

E. I Iornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 115-29. 

Part of the Great Hypostyle Hall of the temple of 
Amun at Karnak. These are the smaller ; closed 
papyrus hud columns: the open papyrus columns 
along the axial route stand 23 m high. 







The sacred ibis (Threskioniis aethiopicus) is 
the best known of the principal species of 
ibis in Egypt; its distinctive features include 
a white body, a dark curved bill and a black 
neck, wing-tips, hindquarters and legs. Until 
the nineteenth Century it was relatively com¬ 
mon in Egypt but by 1850 it had almost dis¬ 
appeared. This bird was regarded as an 
incarnation of thotii, and in the Late Period 
(747-332 bc) and Ptolemaic times (332-30 
Be) sacred ibises were mummified in vast 
numbers and buried in catacombs at tuna 
el-gebel, saqqara and elsewhere (see 

The Greek historian iierodotus states that 
in his time it was an offence ro kill an ibis. 
However, it is known from examination of the 

A mummified ibis J'wm the Sacred Animal 
Necropolis at north Saqqara. Ptolemaic period, 
c .150 bc. (£.168219) 

mummified remains of these birds that some 
must have been hastened to their death; in 
addition it seems that they were being deliber¬ 
ately bred for the purpose of votive mummifi¬ 
cation. It has been suggested that their eggs 
were artificially incubated in ovens; both 
mummified eggs and the remains of other 
species of ibises are known from the catacombs 
at Saqqara. 

The cult of Thoth led to the production of 
numerous ibis amulets and statuettes, many of 
which have survived at Tuna el-Gebel and 
Saqqara. The mummification of ibises and the 
production of votive items must have played 
an important part in the economy, and a vari¬ 
ety of fraudulent practices are recorded in the 
archive of a priest called Hor at Saqqara. 

The ‘glossy ibis’ (Plegadis Jalcinellus) has a 
characteristic curved bill, as well as long legs 
and an iridescent bronze-coloured gloss on its 

upper back and wings. Like the sacred ibis, it 
was frequently depicted in tomb reliefs from 
the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc), usually 
being painted as if it were completely black. 
According to Herodotus it fought with winged 
serpents which flew to Egypt from Arabia. 
The ‘hermit ibis’ ( Geronticus eremita) has a 
long neck, long legs and a distinctive ruff, 
leading some scholars to describe it as the 
‘crested ibis’. Its image served as the hiero¬ 
glyph meaning ‘to shine’ (see \kh). In modern 
Egypt it is a rare accidental migrant, but it 
may have been more common in ancient times. 
Since it is not a waterside bird, it features less 
commonly in ancient scenes set on the banks 
of the Nile, which usually include the sacred 
and glossy varieties. 

J. D. Ray, The archive of Hor (London, 1976). 

G. T. Mar tin, The sacred animal necropolis at 
North Saqqara (London, 1981). 

P. F. Houlihan, The birds of ancient Egypt 
(Warminster, 1986), 26-32, 146-7. 


Type of mongoose common in Africa, which is 
larger than a domestic cat, and thus bigger 
than its Indian counterpart. The creature is 
realistically portrayed in a number of Old 
Kingdom tombs such as that of the 5th- 
Dynasty noble ty (r.2400 bc; Tomb 60 at 
Saqqara), and less realistically depicted in 
some of the New Kingdom tombs, such as that 
of Menna (tt69) at Thebes. 

By the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) 
the ichneumon was included among the 
sacred animals and by Ramesside times 
(1295—1069 bc) it served as a symbol of the 
spirits of the underworld. Its skill in 
despatching snakes led to the myth that the 
sun-god RA once took the form of an ichneu¬ 
mon in order to fight APOPliis, the great ser¬ 
pent of the underworld. This solar identifi¬ 
cation is responsible for the sun disc sur¬ 
mounting some ichneumon figures. 
Sometimes this disc is accompanied by a 
iirueus , which serves to identify the creature 
with wadjyt, the goddess traditionally asso¬ 
ciated with Lower Egypt. The mongoose 
emblem of the goddess Mafdet suggests that 
she may have originally adopted this mani¬ 
festation, which would have been particular¬ 
ly suitable given her supposed power over 
snakes and scorpions. 

Many bronze figurines of ichneumons have 
survived, although most date from the Late 
Period (747-332 bc) or Ptolemaic period 
(332-30 bc), when its depiction can be diffi¬ 
cult to differentiate from that of the shrew. 

E. Brunner-Traut, ‘Spitzmaus und ichneumon 
als Tiere des Sonnengottes’, Nachrichten dcr 

Ahademie der I Vissenschaften in Gottingen (1965), 

—, ‘Ichneumon’, Lexikon der Agyptologie in, cd. 
W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 122-3. 

J. Malek, The cal in ancient Egypt (London, 
1993), 32-9. 

Illahun see EL-LAUUN 


\ izier and architect of the first pyramid, the 
Step Pyramid of djoser (2667-2648 bc) of the 
3rd Dynasty, mam.tho credits him (under the 
Greek form of his name, Imouthes) with the 
invention of building in dressed stone. He is 
also said to have written a number of ‘instruc¬ 
tions’ (sebayt, see wisdom literature), 
although none has survived. It was for his 
great learning that he was most respected and, 
some two thousand years after his death, the 
first evidence appears of his deification, a great 
rarity for non-royal individuals in ancient 
Egypt. He was considered to be a god of wis¬ 
dom, writing and medicine, and as a result 
became linked with the cults of the gods 
TIIOTH and ptah. 

J olive bronze statuette of the deified architect, 
Imhotep. Late Period, 6th—4th centuries bc. 




The Greeks identified him with their own 
god of medicine, Asklepios, and his cult cen¬ 
tre at Saqqara, the ‘Asklepion’, became a 
centre for pilgrimage by those seeking heal¬ 
ing. Many worshippers left a mummified ibis 
as a votive offering to him in the great under¬ 
ground catacombs nearby, and some of these 
birds bear appliques of Imhotep on their 
wrappings. Pilgrims also left clay models of 
diseased limbs and organs in the hope of 
being healed by Imhotep. Bronze figurines of 
the deified Imhotep are common from the 
Late Period onwards. He is usually repre¬ 
sented as a seated scribe unrolling a papyrus 
across his knees. The base of the statuette 
sometimes bears the names and titles of its 

The Saqqara catacombs extend beneath the 
3rd-Dynasty mastaba tombs, a fact which led 
the British archaeologist W. B. Emery to 
search the area for the tomb of Imhotep him¬ 
self, a process which inadvertently led to the 
discovery of the SACRED ANIMAL necropolis. 
The tomb of Imhotep has still not been dis¬ 
covered, although some have argued that it 
may be the large uninscribed mastaba 3518 at 

As well as having a cult centre at Saqqara, 
Imhotep was also worshipped at karnak, 
ei.-bahri, philae and in the Ptolemaic temple 
to Hathor at et -Medina, where he was 
venerated alongside amenhotep son of hapu, 
another important deified official. 

D. Wildl ng, Imhotep und Amenhotep: 
Gotlwerdung im alien Agypten (Berlin, 1977). 

—, Egyptian saints: deific ation in pharaonic Egypt 
(New York, 1977). 


Fetish symbol consisting of the stuffed, head¬ 
less skin of an animal (often a feline) tied to a 
pole which was mounted in a pot. It is 
recorded as early as the 1st Dynasty 
(3100-2890 bc), but is best known through its 
assimilation with the worship of Anubis, 
being depicted in the chapel of Anubis at deir 
EL-BAHRI and elsewhere. As a result, the imiut 
is sometimes described as the ‘Anubis fetish’ 
and serves as one of the epithets of the god. 
Models of the emblem were sometimes 
included among funerary equipment, as in 
the case of the tomb of tutankhamun 
(1336-1327 BC). 

C. N. Reeves, The complete Tutankhamun 
(London, 1990), 135. 


The most common Egyptian word for the 
product used as incense is senetjer (meaning ‘to 
make divine’). However, the term incense has 

Two imiut fetishes (or Anubis fetishes') from the 
tomb of Tutankhamun. 18th Dynasty , c. 1330 bc, 
h. 167 cm. (cairo. a os 194 wo 202. reproduced 


been somewhat vaguely used by Egyptologists 
to describe a range of aromatic substances 
used for burning in temples and for scenting 
the person. ‘Incense trees’ were one of the 
commodities brought to Egypt bv Hatshepsut 
(1473-1458 bc) as a result of the expedition 
that she sent to the African land of punt, and 
aromatics were also imported from the 
Mediterranean. Senetjer , however, is now 
known to come from a species of Pistacia. 

The function of ‘incense cones’ is a matter 
of some debate. There are numerous represen¬ 
tations of guests at banquets and public func¬ 
tions, as in the tomb of Nebamun, wearing 
their heavy wigs, on top of which a cone of 
incense mixed with fat was placed. 
Traditionally it has been assumed that these 
cones would gradually melt in the warm 
atmosphere and run down the wig and clothing 
of the guest to leave them fragrant and cool. 
No such cones have been discovered archaeo- 

BELOW Fragment of mall-painting from the tomb of 
Nebamun, showing guests wearing incense cones at 
a banquet. 18th Dynasty, c .1400 bc, painted 
plaster, from Thebes, h. 61 cm. (ea37984) 




logically, however, and Joann Fletcher has put 
forward an argument that the depiction of the 
cone is used simply as a hieroglyphic symbol to 
depict the fact that the wigs were scented. It 
seems unlikely that guests would have wished 
to have their very elaborate and expensive wigs 
matted with congealed fat or their fine linen 
garments marked and stained (although some 
paintings perhaps suggest that this did hap¬ 
pen). The view that the cone illustrates some¬ 
thing that would otherwise be impossible to 
represent seems a plausible one. 

A. M. Blackman, ‘The significance of incense 
and libations in funerary and temple rituals’, 

ZAS 50 (1912), 69-75. 

J. Fletcher, Ancient Egypt inn hair: a study in 
style, form and function (unpublished dissertation, 
Manchester University, 1995). 

M. Serpigo and R. White, ‘The botanical identitv 
and transport of incense during the Egyptian 
New Kingdom’, Antiquity 74 (2000), 884-97. 

instructions see wisdom literature 

Intef (Inyotef) 

Name taken by three rulers of the Theban 
11th Dynasty (2125-1985 bc.), who were all 
buried in rock-cut safe tombs, in the el-Tarif 
region of western Thebes. They called them¬ 
selves after an 8th-Dynasty Theban nomarch 
(provincial governor) and chief priest, listed as 
a ruler in the so-called Tibie of Karnak (an 
18th-Dynastv Theban king list), who was the 
father of MENTUHOTEP i (c.2125 bc), the 
founder of the 11th Dynasty. 

Intef t Schertamy (2125-2112 bc), the son of 
Mentuhotep i, initially took the title ‘supreme 
chief of Upper Egypt’, but later in his reign he 
conquered the rival cities of koptos, dendera 
and hierakonpolis and adopted a royal 

Intef it Wahankh (2112-2063 uc), the son of 
Intef i Sehertawy, succeeded in consolidating 
the military successes to achieve genuine con¬ 
trol over Upper Egypt. The inscriptions in the 
tomb of Hetepi at Elkab describe a FAMINE 
during his reign. In addition, the lower por¬ 
tion of a stele (Egyptian Museum, Cairo) was 
found in I860 by Auguste Mariette, outside 
Intef n’s tomb at el-Tarif, describing his con¬ 
quests and portraying him with five named 
dogs at his feet. 

Intef m Nakhtnebtepnefer (2063-2055 bc) is 
thought to have restored the funerary chapel 
of the deified nomarch Heqaib at 
Elephantine. His reign is generally more 
poorly documented than his two predeces¬ 
sors, although he is usually described as Intef 
the Great. His son, Nebhepetra mentuhotep 
n, was to become the first ruler of both Upper 

and Lower Egypt since the end of the Old 

The name Intef was also taken by three 
Theban rulers of the 17th Dynasty, who ruled 
Upper Egypt during a period of instability 
immediately preceding the emergence of 
rulers (in this case kamose and aiimose i) who 
reunited the two halves of the country. 

P. E. Newberry, ‘On the parentage of the Intef 
kings of the Eleventh Dynasty’, ZAS 72 (1936), 

H. E. Winlock, The rise and fall of the Middle 
Kingdom in Thebes (New York, 1947). 

W. Schenk EL, Memphis, Herakleopolis, Theben: 
die epigraphischen Zeugnisse iler 7.-11. Dynastic 
Agyptens (Wiesbaden, 1965). 

D. Arnold, Gruber des Altai und Mittleren 
Reiches in El-Tarif (Mainz, 1976). 


Term used to describe the annual flooding of 
the Nile in Egypt, which has not taken place 
since the completion of the Aswan high dam 
in 1971. Such was the importance of the Nile 
inundation to the ancient Egyptians that 
they worshipped hapy, a personification of 
the floods and the ensuing fertility. The 
Egyptian seasons were based on the annual 
Nile cycle, and named accordingly: akhel the 
inundation, peret the growing season, and 
shemu the drought season. However, the 
inundation only occasionally occurred in the 
calendrical season of akhel , since the civil 
calendar itself became gradually more and 
more out of step with the seasonal and lunar 
measurements of time. 

Each year betw een June and September the 
Nile and its tributaries, the Blue Nile and the 
Atbara, receive the heavy summer rains of the 
Ethiopian highlands. These rivers greatly 
increase their volume and flood along the 
Nile’s course. For thousands of years, prior to 
the construction of the High Dam, the flood 
would have become noticeable at Aswan bv the 
last week of June, and w ould have reached its 
full height in the vicinity of Cairo by 
September. The floods would begin to subside 
about two w eeks later. The flooding of the land 
led to the deposition of a new layer of fertile 
silt every year, so that fertilizer was not gener¬ 
ally necessary, the soil being replaced each 
year. The importance of recording the level of 
the inundation, in terms of predicting soil fer¬ 
tility and crop yields, led to the devising of 
methods for the recording of the Nile's height, 
using KILOMETERS (although there is no evi¬ 
dence for them in the earliest periods). 
However, there is no firm evidence that such 
records were used to calculate crop yields as a 
basis for taxation. 

The first crops could be planted in October 
and November and would ripen in March or 
April, at which time the river had reached its 
lowest level (see agriculture). During this 
time little watering w ould have been necessary. 
The water could be retained longer on the 
land by the use of basins and canals, and it 
could be raised from the river by irrigation 
devices such as the siiaduf. The extensive 
flooding of the land also produced an unavoid¬ 
able ‘slack period’ in the agricultural year, dur¬ 
ing which certain corvee tasks could be under¬ 
taken. In the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc), 
pyramid building was one such task, and the 
high water levels could be used to ship stone 
closer to construction sites than would other¬ 
wise have been possible. 

The inundation was also a time of celebra¬ 
tion, and offerings were made to iiapy , the god 
who personified the Nile flood. The Hymn to 
the Nile Inundation , probably composed in the 
Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc), praises the 
river for the renewed life it brings to Egypt 
each year. 

B. H. Strickkr, De overstraining van cle Nijl 
(Leiden, 1956). 

D. Bonneau, La erne du Nil (Paris, 1964). 

K. Butzer, Early hydraulic civilization in Egypt 
(Chicago, 1976). 

W. Schexkel, Die Bewdsserungsrevolution im 
alien Agypten (Mainz, 1978). 

J. J. Janssen, ‘The day the inundation began’, 
JNES 46/2 (1987), 129-36. 

Inyotef see intef 


Although iron was introduced into western 
Asia by the third millennium bc, the first evi¬ 
dence of iron smelting in Egypt, dating to the 
sixth century bc, was excavated by Flinders 
Petrie at the Delta city of naukratis. There 
are a number of earlier examples of iron arte¬ 
facts in Egypt, stretching back to the early Old 
Kingdom {c.2 600 bc), but most of these are 
assumed to have involved naturally occurring 
meteoric rather than smelted iron. A fragment 
of iron found in the pyramid complex of 
Khufu at GIZA has been shown to be much later 
in date than the Old Kingdom. 

Until the 22nd Dynasty (945-715 BC.) iron 
artefacts were primarily restricted to ritual 
contexts, such as royal tombs, as in the case of 
the small iron dagger found in the tomb of 
tutanKHAmun (kv62; 1336-1327 bc). The 
AMARNA letters include references to gifts of 
iron sent from western Asiatic rulers to 
Amenhotep in (1390-1352 bc) and Akhenaten 
(1352—1336 bc), indicating the prestigious 
nature of the metal at this date (see hittites). 




It was only during the Roman period (30 bc- 
ad 395) that iron tools and weapons became 
relatively common in Egypt. For the use of 
iron in Nubia, see mfrof. 

A. Ll CAS, Ancient Egyptian materials, ami 
industries , 4th ed., rev. J. R. Harris (London, 
1962), 235-43. 

R. Maddin, ‘Early iron metallurgy in the Near 
East’, Transactions of the Iron and Steel Institute 
of Japan 15/2 (1975), 59-68. 

R. F. Tylecote, ‘The origin of iron smelting in 
Africa’, West African Journal of Archaeology 5 
(1975), 1-9. 

B. Sca iEEL, Egyptian metalworking and tools 
(Princes Risborough, 1989), 17-18. 

irrigation see agriculture; inundation; 
SCORPION and smadut 

ished tree see trees 


Goddess who encapsulated the virtues of the 
archetypal Egyptian wife and mother. She was 
the sister-wife to OSIRIS and mother to IIORUS, 
and as such became the symbolic mother of 
the Egyptian king, who was himself regarded 
as a human manifestation of Horus. The asso¬ 
ciation between Isis and the physical royal 
throne itself is perhaps indicated by the fact 
that her name may have originally meant ‘seat’, 
and the emblem that she wore on her head was 
the hieroglyphic sign for throne. From the 
New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) onwards, she 
was closely connected with iiatuor and so 
sometimes wore a solar disc between cow 
horns. Her maternal role included that of the 
‘Isis-cow’, mother to the apis bull, and ‘great 
white sow of Heliopolis’. Her origins arc 
uncertain, although she seems to have been 
first worshipped in the Delta; in the 
Heliopolitan theology she was regarded as a 
daughter of the deities geb and nut. 

She is best known mythologically as the 
devoted wife of Osiris, w hose body she sought 
after his murder by sr/ru. She is said to have 
made the first mummy from die dismembered 
limbs of Osiris, using her wings to breathe life 
into him and magically conceiving her son 
Horus in the process. In the temple of Hathor 
at df.ndf.ra, there are reliefs depicting this 
necrophiliac act of conception, showing Isis 
hovering over the mummy in the form of a kite. 
In reference to diis role, she is often depicted 
in the form of a woman with long elegant 
wings, often embracing the pharaoh or, in pri¬ 
vate funerary scenes, the deceased. According 
to the myths, Osiris became ruler of the under¬ 
world, while Isis gave birth to her son at 
Khemmis in the Delta. Numerous bronzes and 

reliefs show her suckling Horus in the form of 
the young king seated on her lap. 

As ‘Isis great in magic’ she could be called 
upon to protect the young, and would be 
invoked at times of injury. She was also able to 
combine her medicinal skills w ith great cun¬ 
ning. When the sun-god RA was bitten by a 
snake (fashioned by Isis from earth mixed with 
Ra’s saliva) she is said to have offered to cure 
him in return for knowledge of his secret 
name. Having found out this name, she 
became ‘mistress of the gods w ho know s Ra by 
his ow n name’ and passed on her knowledge to 
Horus, thus enabling him to acquire great 
powers. Her great cunning was also described 
in the story of the contendings of Horus and 

Gilt, bronze and wood statuette of Isis suckling 
Horus. The wooden chair and pedestal are original 
and the face of the goddess is gill. Eate Period , 
after 6 Of) bc, from north Saqqara , //. 23 an. 

Seth, in which she was instrumental in having 
Seth condemn himself, so that her son would 
become the earthly ruler of Egypt. 

Her most famous and long-lived sanctuary 
was on the island of piiilae near Asw an, but as 
a universal goddess she was widely wor¬ 
shipped, with significant cults at Egyptian 
sites such as dfndfra as well as at bybi.os in 
Syria-Palestine. The great importance attached 
to her cult by the Nubians is demonstrated 




by the survival of her worship at Philae (on the 
border between Egypt and Nubia) until the 
sixth century \i), by which time virtually all of 
Egypt had become Christianized. 

Tn post-Pharaonic times her cult was adopt¬ 
ed as one of the Classical ‘mystery’ cults, grad¬ 
ually spreading through the Hellenistic world 
and the Roman empire. There were temples 
erected to her in Rome itself', including a sub¬ 
stantial complex at the Campus Martius. The 
Classical writer Apuleius (cad 140) described 
a ceremony of initiation into the cult of Isis in 
his Metamorphoses , although the final rite in 
the ceremony was not disclosed. In 
Greco-Roman times, her cult began to surpass 
that of Osiris in popularity, seriously rivalling 
both the traditional Roman gods and early 

H. W. Miller, ‘Isis mit dem Horuskinde’, MJK 
14(1963), 7-38. 

M. -VIlnster, i'ntersucbingen zur Gin tin Isis -coin 
Allen Reich his zum Ernie ties Neuen Reiches 
(Berlin, 1968). 

J. G. Griffiths, Plutarch's De hide el Osiride 
(Swansea, 1970). 

R. E. Witt, Isis in the Graeco-Roman world 
(London, 1971). 

J. Leclant, Inventuire bibliographique des Isiaca, 

2 vols (Leiden, 1972-4). 

E Di n and, Le culte d'Isis dans le bassin orientate 
de la Medilerranee , 3 vols (Leiden, 1973). 

R. A. Wild, Hater in the cullic worship of Isis and 
Sarapis (Leiden, 1981). 


The Israelites are attested in Syria-Palestine 
from the late Bronze Age onwards. Their cul¬ 
tural and ethnic origins are difficult to clarify, 
partly because the archaeological and Biblical 
sources of evidence are difficult to reconcile. 
The Biblical accounts of the origins of the 
people of Israel, which are principally 
described in the books of Numbers, Joshua 
and Judges, are often at odds both with other 
ancient textual sources and with the archaeo¬ 
logical evidence for the settlement of CANAAN 
in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age 
(c. 1600-750 Be). 

Israel is first textually attested as a political 
entity in the so-called Israel Stele, an inscrip¬ 
tion of the fifth year of the reign of merenptah 
(1213-1203 lie), which includes a list of 
defeated peoples: ‘Their chiefs prostrate 
themselves and beg for peace, Canaan is dev¬ 
astated, Ashkelon is vanquished, Gezer is 
taken, Yenoam annihilated, Israel is laid waste, 
its seed exists no more, Syria is made a widow 
for Egypt, and all lands have been pacified.’ 

Donald Redford has suggested that the 
Israelites were probably emerging as a distinct 

The so-called ‘Israel Stele' or 'victory stele of 
Merenptah which is inscribed with a list of 
defeated peoples, including the first known mention 
of Israel (detail above). The stele was erected by 
Merenptah in his funerary temple at Thebes. 19th 
Dynasty, 1213 1203 tic, grey granite, it. 3.18m. 
(cairo $31408) 

element of Canaanite culture during the cen¬ 
tury or so prior to this. Some authorities have 
argued that the early Israelites were an 
oppressed rural group of Canaanites who 
rebelled against the Canaanite cities along the 
coast, while others have hypothesized that 
they were the survivors of a decline in the for¬ 
tunes of Canaan who established themselves in 
the highlands at the end of the Bronze Age. 
Redford, however, makes a good case for 
equating the very earliest Israelites with the 
semi-nomadic people in the highlands of cen¬ 
tral Palestine, known to the Egyptians as the 
Shasu (see bedouin), who constantly disrupt¬ 
ed the Ramcsside pharaohs’ sphere of influ¬ 
ence in Syria-Palestine. This theory is bol¬ 

stered by the fact that the hieroglyphic deter¬ 
minative written in front of the name Israel 
on the Israel Stele indicates that it was regard¬ 
ed as a group of people rather than a city. 

Although, unlike Israel, the Shasu are often 
mentioned in Egyptian texts, their pastoral 
lifestyle has left few traces in the archaeologi¬ 
cal record. By the end of the thirteenth centu¬ 
ry bc the Shasu/Israelites were beginning to 
establish small settlements in the uplands, the 
architecture of which closely resembled con¬ 
temporary Canaanite villages. 

In the tenth century DC Solomon ruled over 
an Israelite kingdom that had overcome both 
Canaanites and Philistines, emerging as the 
dominant state in the Levant. At the capital, 
Jerusalem, only the barest ruins of Solomon’s 
temple and palace have survived. After his 
reign, the territory was split between the king¬ 
doms of Israel and Judah, which survived until 
722 and 587 bc: respectively In the Egyptian 
Third Intermediate Period (1069-747 lie) and 
Late Period (747—332 bc) there are a number 
of references in Egyptian texts to Egyptian 
political dealings with Israel, Judah and other 
Syro-Palestinian polities, particularly in the 
forging of alliances to hold back the threats 
posed by the Assyrians and Persians. 

See also biblical connections. 

W. M. E Petrie, Six temples at Thebes (London, 
1897), 13. 

E. Horni ng, ‘Die Israclstele des Merenptah’, 

A gyp ten undAlles Testament 5 (1983), 224-33. 

G. W. Aiilstrom, Who were the Israelites? 

(Winona Lake, IN, 1986). 

M. Saleh and II. Solrolzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo (Mainz, 1987), no. 212. 

D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in 
ancient limes (Princeton, 1992), 257-82. 


Not specifically an Egyptological term, but 
generally used to refer to deities or human fig¬ 
ures having an erect penis, particularly the 
gods Ami n and min. 

iuwen (Egyptian iwn: ‘pillar’) 

Pillar-shaped fetish of the city of Heliopolis 
which was a symbol of the moon, in the same 
way that the OBELISK was associated with the 
sun-god. The name was also applied to the 
moon-god manifestation of osiris. 

K. M \rtin. Tin Garantsymbol des Lcbens 
(Hildesheim, 1977), 16-18. 

—, ‘Iun-Pfeiler’, Lexikon der Agyptologie m, ed. 

W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 213-14. 





jackal see anubis, dog and wepwawet 


From the earliest times in ancient Egypt, jew¬ 
ellery was used as a means of self-adornment 
and also as an indication of social status. Thus, 
it is not surprising to find that jewellery is 
among the first types of artefact known from 
Egypt. During the Badarian period 
(c. 5500-4000 bc:) broad belts or ‘girdles’ of 
green glazed stone beads were made. Later in 
the PREDYNASTic PERIOD necklaces of faience 
beads were worn, along with bracelets and 
amulets of shell and ivory. 

In the lst-Dynasty tomb of djer at Abydos a 
dismembered arm decorated with four 
bracelets was discovered by Flinders Petrie. 
These early examples of jewellery show con¬ 
siderable sophistication, and such precious 
materials as gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise and 
amethyst were already being used. Although 
the actual burial was not preserved in the 3rd- 
Dvnastv tomb of sekhemkhet at Saqqara, the 
excavations did reveal items of spectacular 
jewellery, including a delicate bracelet of gold 
ball-beads. The 4th-Dynasty tomb of Queen 
I lETEPl ieres I at Giza contained numerous 
pieces of royal jewellery, including silver bangles 
inlaid with butterfly designs. In certain periods 
the Egyptians seem to have regarded silver as 
more valuable than gold, and this find gives 
some indication of the rich jewellery that must 
have accompanied the burials of the pharaohs 
during the Old Kingdom (2686—2181 bc). 

The peak of Egyptian jewellery-making was 
undoubtedly the Middle Kingdom (2055— 
1650 bc), when works of great elegance and 
refinement were produced, as in the case of the 
jewellery of Princess khnemet, who was buried 
at DAHSHUR during the reign of the 12th- 
Dynasty ruler Amenemhat n (1922-1878 bc:). 
Her equipment included two beautifully made 
openwork diadems inlaid with semi-precious 
stones, and the famous Cretan-influenced 
‘bull mosaic’ pendant, which, until recently, 
was widely believed to be glass. The Dahshur 
treasure was rivalled only by the late 12th- 
Dynasty jewellery of Sithathoriunet from a 
shaft-tomb at EL-LAHUN, which included a dia¬ 
dem, a gold collar and two pectorals, as well as 
necklaces and bead-girdles (now T in the 
Metropolitan Museum, New York and the 
Egyptian Museum, Cairo). 

From the royal necropolis at ei.-lisht came 

Egyptian royaljewellery of the Middle Kingdom 
and Second Intermediate Period (c. 1880-1590 bc). 
TOP elect rum winged scarab, inla id with cornelian, 
green feldspar and lapis lazuli. (£a54460) above 
centre ajoiire gold plaque showing Amenemhat n 
offering unguent to Alum. (ea59194) centre gold 
finger-ring with lapis lazuli bezel. ( r.\57698) left 
and right two bracelet spacer-bars crowned by 
reclining cats, with twelve threading tubes; the 
inscription on the base of each names Nubkheperra 
lute fund his wife Sobkemsqf. (f.a57699, 57700) 
bottom human-headed green jasper heart scarab of 
Sobkemsafu, a roughly-incised verse of Chapter 
30 b from the Book of the Dead around the gold 
plinth. (f,a7876) L of heart scarab 3.6 cm. 

the fine jewellery of a 12th-Dynasty noble¬ 
woman named Senebtisy, whose ‘broad collar’ 
incorporates faience, turquoise and gold leaf. 
However, the fact that this piece has no fasten¬ 

ings suggests that it may have been made 
specifically for funerary use. The same tomb 
contained gold hair ornaments in the form <4 
flowers, a bead belt w ith a gold buckle deco¬ 
rated with Senebtisy’s name, and a further 
broad collar with falcon terminals. The jew¬ 
ellery of this period was to influence products 
in neighbouring lands, and excavations at the 
Svro-Palestinian city of Byblos have revealed 
numerous Egyptianizing items, including a 
gold ‘breast-plate’ bearing the pattern of an 
Egyptian broad collar. 

The earliest significant finds of jeweller} in 
the New Kingdom derive from the tomb of 
Queen AHHOTEP u, whose equipment included 
magnificent inlay work, and an extremely tine 
chain made from looped six-ply gold wire. 
The jewellery of Menwi, Merti and Menhet, 
three foreign wives of Thutmose ni 
(1479-1425 bc), w f as discovered in a much- 




plundered rock tomb at Wadi Gabbanet el- 
Qurud, about three kilometres to the west of 
Deir el-Bahri in western Thebes. The finds 
(now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New 
York) include glass elements among the gem¬ 
stones and gold. Although glass was precious 

a son of Rameses 11 (1279-1213 uc) whose 
funerary chapel was attached to the 
at Saqqara. Two of the APis-bull burials made 
by the prince also Contained jewellery, 
although this is generally regarded as clumsy 
and poorly made. 

have revealed large quantities of fired clay 
moulds used for the making of faience 
amulets, beads and finger rings. Blue faience 
disc beads were evidently produced (and lost) 
in their thousands at such 18th-Dynasty town 
sites as el-Amarna and Malkata. 

H. E. Winlock, The treu sure oft hree Egyptian 
princesses (New York, 1948). 

C. Aldked, Jewels of the pharaohs (London, 


C. A. R. Andrews, Catalogue of Egyptian 
antiquities in the British Museum \ I: Jewellery 
(London, 1981). 

J. Ogden, Jewellery of the ancient world (London, 

C. A. R. Andrews, Ancient Egyptian jewellery 
(London, 1990). 

judgement of the dead see funerary 


Fragment of wall-painting from the lornh of 
Sobekhotep (tt63), showing jewellery-makers and 
metal-workers making beads and precious objects. 
Several of the men are using quadruple and triple 
bow drills to pierce hard-stone beads. 18th 
Dynasty, reign of Thutmose //, c. 1395 tie, painted 
plaster, from Thebes, ft. 06 cm. (r. i920) 

at this time, the Wadi Qubbanet el-Qirud 
finds mark the beginning of a trend whereby 
New Kingdom jewellery became increasingly 
elaborate and garish, making more use of 
artificial stones, and gradually becoming less 

The fabulous jewellery of Tutankhamen 
(1336—1327 bc) is sometimes described as 
expensive costume jewellery, lacking the 
refinement of the Middle Kingdom and early 
New Kingdom work. The major find of the 
19th Dynasty is the jewellery of Khaemwaset, 

During the New Kingdom ear ornaments 
became relatively common, and a variety of 
earrings were produced, particularly in stone 
and glass. Pierre Montet’s excavations at tanis 
in 1939-40 led to the discovery of royal jew¬ 
ellery of the Third Intermediate Period 
(1069—747 uc), which, although less accom¬ 
plished than some of the earlier work, is clear¬ 
ly of a generally similar type to the New 
Kingdom material. 

The scientific and aesthetic study of the 
surviving items of jewellery has been supple¬ 
mented by pictorial evidence, from tombs 
such as those of rkkhmira (ttIOO), 
Amenemopet (tt276) and Sobekhotep (tt63), 
as well as the debris of faience workshops 
such as those at el-\marna. The jewellery 
worn by poorer people was mostly made from 
less valuable gemstones or faience. The exca¬ 
vations of the 18th-Dynasty city at el-Amarna 





Almost untranslatable term used by the 
Egyptians to describe the creative life-force of 
each individual, whether human or divine. 
The ka, represented by a hieroglyph consist¬ 
ing of a pair of arms, was considered to be the 
essential ingredient that differentiated a living 
person from a dead one, and is therefore 
sometimes translated as ‘sustenance’. It came 
into existence at the same moment that the 
individual was born, subsequently serving as 
his or her ‘double’ and sometimes being 
depicted in funerary art as a slightly smaller 
figure standing beside the living being (see 
dyad). Sometimes the creator-god kiinum was 
shown modelling the ka on a potter’s wheel at 
the same time as he was forming the bodies of 

When any individual died, the ka continued 
to live, and so required the same sustenance as 
the human being had enjoyed in life. For this 
reason it was provided either with genuine 
food offerings or with representations of food 
depicted on the wall of the tomb, all of which 
were activated by the offering formula, 
addressed directly to the ka. It appears that the 
ka was thought not to eat the offerings physi¬ 
cally but simply to assimilate their life¬ 
preserving force. In giving food or drink to 
one another in normal daily life, the Egyptians 
therefore sometimes used the formula ‘for 
your ka ’ in acknowledgement of this life- 
giving force. Consequently the offerings 
themselves came to be known as kaw and were 
sometimes replaced in representations of the 
OFFERING table bv the ka sign - two out¬ 
stretched arms that magically warded off the 
forces of evil. It was to the ka that offerings 
were made before the falsi: doors set up in 

Funerary statues were regarded as images 
of the ka of the deceased, and sometimes these 
too incorporated the ka symbol, as in the case 
of the image of the 13th-Dynasty ruler Awibra 
Hor from dahsiiur (r. 1750 bc; Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo), which depicts the deceased 
with the ka hieroglyph in the form of a head¬ 
dress. It was thought that the reunion of the BA 
and ka in the underworld effectively trans¬ 
formed the deceased into an akii (one of the 
‘blessed dead’). 

J. P. Alien, ‘Funerary texts and their meaning’, 
Mummies and magic , ed. P. Lacovara, S. D’Auria 
and C. H. Roehrig (Boston, 1988), 38-49. 

Ka -statue of King Awibra Hor, discovered within 
its naos in a tomb to the north of the pyramid of 
Amenemhat mat Dahshur. I3lh Dynasty, 
c.1700 ttc, H. naos 2.07 tn, h. of statue 1.7 m. 
(c.mro ji- 30948) 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. E. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 167-84. 

Kalabsha (anc. Talmis) 

Site of an unfinished, free-standing temple in 
Lower Nubia, about 50 km south of Aswan. 
The complex was built in sandstone masonry 
and consisted of a pylon, forecourt, hypostyle 
hall, two vestibules and a sanctuary. It was 
dedicated to the local god Mandulis and dates 
primarily to the early Roman period (r.30 bc), 
but the colony at Talmis evidently dates back 
to at least the reign of Amenhotep n 
(1427-1400 bc), who is depicted in the paint¬ 
ed wall reliefs of the hypostyle hall. In 
1962-3 the buildings were dismantled, in 
order to save them from the waters of Lake 
Nasser, and in 1970 they were reassembled at 
a new location 750 m to the south of the 


K. G. Sikgler, Kalabsha. Architektur und 
Baugeschichte des Tempe/s (Berlin, 1970). 

Kamose (1555-1550 bc) 

Last ruler of the Theban 17th Dynasty, suc¬ 
cessor of seqenenra taa u (c.1560 bc) and pre¬ 
decessor of ahmosi. i (1550-1525 bc), the first 
18th-Dynastv ruler. The principal documents 
relating to his reign are two large stelae at 
Karnak (both recounting his campaigns 
against the hyksos rulers), as well as the 
Carnarvon Tablet, which appears to be a later 
scribal copy of the stelae. The text derived 
from these three documents begins by 
describing the war between Seqenenra Taa n 
and the Hyksos king Aauserra apepi 
(1585-1542 bc) and goes on to narrate 
Kamose’s continuation of the conflict after 
his father’s death. He was buried in a pyrami¬ 
dal-style tomb at Dra Abu el-Naga (see 
THEBES), where the earlier 17th-Dvnasty royal 
tombs are located, and it appears that his 
tomb had still not been robbed over four hun¬ 
dred years later when the necropolis was 
inspected during the reign of Raineses i.\ 
(1126—1108 bc). His coffin was discovered 
at Dra Abu el-Naga in 1857, but his mummi¬ 
fied bod\ disintegrated as soon as it was 

A. H. Gardiner, ‘The defeat of the Hyksos by 
Kamos e'JEA 3(1917), 95-110. 

H. Winlock, ‘The tombs of the kings of the 
Seventeenth Dynasty at Thebes’, JEA 10 (1924), 

H. Gauthier, ‘Les deux rois Kamose (xvue 
dynastic)’, Studies Griffith , cd. S. R. K. Glanvillc 
(Oxford, 1932), 3-8. 

L. Habacht, The second stele of Kamose and his 
struggle against the Hyksos ruler and his capital 
(Gliickstadt, 1972). 





Divine epithet meaning ‘bull of his mother’, 
which was used from the New Kingdom 
onwards to refer to the combined ithvphallic 
form of amln and min. Amun-Min-Kamutef 
is frequently depicted receiving offerings of 
lettuces, or standing beside them as they grow. 
H. Ricke, Das Kamutef-Heiligtum Hatschepsuts 
und Thutmoses in (Cairo, 1939). 

H. Jaritz, ‘Kamutef’, Lexikon der Agyptologie in, 
ed. W. I Icick, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 308-9. 

G. Haeny, ‘Zum Kamutef’, GM 90 (1986), 33-4. 


Large town-site and necropolis located in 
Lower N ubia about 60 km south of Aswan, 
which flourished in the Meroitic and post- 
Meroitic periods (r.300 uc-ad 550). By at least 
as early as the third century bc, Karanog had 
developed into a major town; the unusually 
scattered settlement w'as unique among 
Meroitic administrative centres (e.g. faras, 
Gebel Adda and qasr ibrim) in being protect¬ 
ed by a huge three-storey mud-brick ‘castle’ 
rather than a surrounding enclosure wall. 
Whereas Meroitic sites in Upper Nubia con¬ 
sist principally of temples and tombs, the 
remains of Karanog and other surviving 
Lower Nubian Meroitic settlements are dom¬ 
inated by palaces and fortifications, and there 
is a distinct lack of royal sculptures and 
inscriptions, ln view of this discrepancy W. Y. 
Adams has proposed that Lower Nubian 
towns such as Karanog may have been gov¬ 
erned by local feudal rulers rather than being- 
under the direct control of the Meroitic kings 
in the south. 

C. L. Woolley and D. Randall-MacIyfr, 
Karanog, the Romano-Nubian cemetery 
(Philadelphia, 1910). 

C. L. Woolley, Karanog, the town (Philadelphia, 

W. Y. Adams, ‘Meroitic north and south, a study 
in cultural contrasts’, Meroilica 2 (1976), 11-26. 
—, Nubia: corridor to Africa , 2nd ed. (London 
and Princeton, 1984), 356-7, 371-8. 

Karnak (anc. Ipet-isut) 

Huge complex of religious buildings covering- 
over a hundred hectares in the northeastern 
area of modern Luxor, consisting of three 
major sacred precincts dedicated to the deities 
AMUN-ra, mut and MONTH, each surrounded 
by trapezoidal mud-brick enclosure walls. The 
enclosures also encompassed several smaller 
temples dedicated to p i ah, Opet and khons 
respectively. The main temples were continu- 

Plan of the temple complex at Karnak. 


ally extended and embellished bv the rulers of 
tgypt from at least the Middle Kingdom 
(2053-1650 nc) until the Roman period (30 
ik m ) 3 15), but most of the surviving remains 
date to the New Kingdom (1550-1069 nc). 

l'he principal temple at Karnalc, dedicated 
to Amun-Ra, the pre-eminent god of the New 
Kingdom, consisted of two axes, each com- 
prising a succession of pylons and courtyards 
interspersed with obelisks, smaller temples 
shrines and altars. The earliest axis stretches 
from west to east, incorporating the Great 
Hypostyle Hall of Rameses n (1279-1213 bc), 
which is over 0.5 hectares in area. The second 
axis extends the temple southwards towards 
the nearby precinct of the goddess Mut. To 
the south of the junction between the two axes 
is a vast rectangular sacred lake. The first 
court on the north-south axis is also known as 
cachetre court’, since an impressive collection 
of thousands of fragments of royal and private 
statuary (mostly now in the Egyptian 
-Museum, Cairo) was discovered here in 1902, 
buried under the temple floor. 

Although Karnak has been subject to 
numerous excavations since the late nine¬ 
teenth century, the vast majority of resources 
ia\ e been devoted to the conservation and re- 
ercction of the standing monuments. It is the 
largest and best-preserved temple complex of 
the New Kingdom, and its reliefs and inscrip¬ 
tions incorporate valuable epigraphic data 
concerning the political and religious activities 
of imperial Egypt. 

Karnak was surrounded by the growing citv 
of Thebes (anc. Waset), which was the reli¬ 
gious centre of Egypt for most of the Dynastic 
period. In c667 nc the temple and town were 
sacked by the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal and 
from then on the city centre gradually moved 
two kilometres southwards to the area around 
i-UXOR temple. Much of the ancient Theban 
settlement therefore lies underneath modern 
Luxor, rendering it largely inaccessible to 

Bronze statuette of a Kushite king (perhaps 
Taharqo) from Temple rat Kama. 25th Dynasty 
c.690 nc, //. 11.2 cm. (ea63595) 

regained its importance and shabac 
(716-702 bc), Shabitqo (702-690 bc) an 
taharqo (690-664 BC) all contributed ne 
buildings, reliefs and statuary. Taharqo effei 
tiveiy created a new sanctuary of aaiun com 
parable with that at Gebcl Barkal, after vvhic 
the Kushite kings were obliged to earn ou 
important rituals at Kawa. Taharqo’s work wa 
commemorated by a stele, still in situ , dating tc 
the sixth year of his reign. 

•M. E L. Macadam, The temples of Kawa, 2 vols 
(Oxford, 1949-55). 

1929 ) GRAIN ’ US ‘ emt>lCS d “ (Brussels, 

CUM RK FRAVat-HtvPI ffiN 1,’tiTUDE dks tempos 
di. KARNAK, Caluers de Karnak , 6 vols (1943-82). 
P. Bargukt, Le temple d'Amon-Re a Karnak: essai 
d exegese (Cairo, 1962). 


Temple site located opposite Dongola in the 
heartland of the Nubian kerma culture. The 
temple complex was founded bv amknhoti-,* hi 
(1390-1352 bc) but it had been virtually aban- 
doned by the reign of Rameses vu (1136-1 129 
bc). Eventually, with the emergence of the 
Kushite 25th Dynasty (747-656 bc), the site 

Kematef see amun 

1 he name that the ancient Egyptians used to 
describe Egypt itself. The literal meaning of 
Kemet is ‘black land’, a reference to the fertile 
Nile silt which was annually spread across the 
land by the inundation. The Egyptians 
referred to themselves as the remetch en Kemet 
(‘the people of the black land’). For the 
Egyptians, therefore, black was essentially the 
colour of rebirth and regeneration, probably- 
having none of the western connotations of 
death and decay. 

4 he fertile, black landscape of Kemet was 

surrounded, in stark contrast, bv the desert 
known to the Egyptians as Deshret (‘the red 
kmd’). This sense of natural duality was 
deeply mgramed in the Egyptian world-view 
m that their land was that of the lotus and the' 
J Papyrus, of the red crown and the white, of 
f upper and Lower Egypt. 

I H. Kits, Ancient Egypt: a cultural topography , ed 

| T. G. H. James (London, 1961). 

Kenamun (Qenamun) (c 1450-1400 bc) 

High official of the 18th Dynasty, whose well- 
preserved Theban tomb (tt93) was never 
properly excavated since it was already known 
to early travellers in the eighteenth century 
ad. He was chief steward to amenhotep 
( 4-7-1400 bc) and superintendent of the 
docky ard of Peru-nefer near Memphis. The 
fact that he was the son of the roval nurse 
Amenemopet is perhaps an indication that 
ugh administrative posts could be gained dur¬ 
ing the New Kingdom even by individuals 
with relatively indirect links to the royal fami¬ 
ly A siiabti of Kenamun, probably given to 
him by the king, is the first known piece of 
three-dimensional Egy ptian sculpture to be 
formed from glass (although a glass sculpture 
of the head of Amenhotep ii, now in the 
Corning Museum of Glass, New York, would 
have been roughly contemporary). This 
Kenamun should not be confused with his 
namesake, who was Mayor of the Southern 

/V?m/ Thebe ^ In the reign of Amenhotep m 
(1390-1352 bc), and owner of another Theban 
tomb (tt162). 

N. dc G. Davies, The tomb ofKen-Amun at 
Thebes , 2 vols (London, 1930). 

J. D. Cooney, ‘Glass sculpture in ancient Egypt’, 
Journal of Glass Studies 2 (1960), 12—14 


Town-site of the early second millennium bc, 
near the third Nile cataract in Upper Nubia, 
which was almost certainly the capital of the 
Kushite Kingdom during the Egyptian Old 
and Middle Kingdoms (2686-1650 bc) - it is 
therefore the type-site for the Kerma culture 
(c2500-1500 bc), probably to be identified 
with the Egyptians’ ‘land of Yam’. The site of 
Kerma incorporates a large settlement of the 
Second Intermediate Period (1650-1550 bc), a 
cemetery of late Kerma-culture tumulus- 
graves (including the tombs of rulers). These 
elite burials also incorporated large numbers 
of sacrificed retainers. 

The site is dominated by two enigmatic 
mud-brick structures, known as the dejfufa , 
dating to the seventeenth century bc. The L- 
shaped western dejfufa , almost certainly a tern 
pie, is in the centre of the town, while the east- 




Handmade ‘Kama ware' beaker from Tumulus K 
at Kerma. Classic Kerma phase, c.l 750—1550 nc, 
it. I Lb cm. (iu55424) 

ern dejfufa , a type of funerary chapel, is part of 
the cemetery at the southern end of the site. 
Each of the dejfufas was originally an almost 
solid block of mud bricks covering an area of 
roughly 1500 sq. m. 

G. Reisner, Excavations at Kerma i-iv, 2 vols 
(Cambridge, MA, 1923). 

B. Gratien, Les cultures Kerma: essaide 
classification (Lille, 1978). 

C. Bonne t, ‘La deffufa occidentale a Kerma: 
cssai d’interpretation', BIFAO 81 Supp. (1981), 

—, ‘Excavations at the N ubian royal town of 
Kerma: 1975-9F, Antiquity 66 (1992), 611-25 

Khafra (Chephren, Rakhaef; 2558-2532 nc) 
Son of KJtui-U (2589-2566 nc), fourth ruler of 
the 4th Dynasty and builder of the second 
pyramid at Giza. He succeeded to the throne 
after the death of his half-brother Djedefra 
(2566—2558 nc), who had constructed his 
pyramid at Ant roast i rather than Giza (lead¬ 
ing to suggestions from some scholars that 
there was a temporary religious schism 
between the younger and elder branches of 
Khufu’s successors). Khafra’s royal TITULARY 
included the new sa Ra (‘son of Ra’) epithet, 
which Djedefra had used for the first time. 

His pyramid complex at Giza was similar to 
that of Khufu, although slightly smaller and 
currently better preserved. It is usually 
assumed that the head of the Great Sphinx 
was carved into the appearance of Khafra, 
since it is situated immediately next to his 
causeway and valley temple. There have been 
suggestions that the geological condition of 
the sphinx indicates that it was carved at a 
somewhat earlier date, but the archaeological 
and circumstantial evidence appear to support 

its synchronicity with the 4th~Dynastv pyra¬ 
mid complexes. 

Khafra’s granite-lined valley temple, exca¬ 
vated hv Auguste Mariette in 1860, was found 
to contain several royal statues, including a 
magnificent monolithic seated statue of the 
king with a Horus falcon embracing the back 
of his head, which is one of the masterpieces 
of Old Kingdom sculpture (now in the 
Egyptian Museum, Cairo). The diorite-gneiss 
from which the statue was carved w as obtained 
by an expedition sent to the so-called 
‘Chephren quarries' in Lower Nubia, some 
240 km south-west of modern Aswan. The 
head of a pink granite statue of a similar type, 
representing Khafra, has also been discovered 
more recently. 

M. Saleh and H. Sourouziax, The Egyptian 
Museum . Cairo: official catalogue (Mainz, 1987), 
eat. no. 31. 

Diorite-gneiss seated statue of Khafra from his 
pyramid complex at Giza. 4lh Dynasty, c .2500 
dc, h. t.68 m. (cairo jf. 10062) 

C. Vandersleyen, ‘Une tete de Chefren en 
granite rose’, RdE 38 (1987), 94-7. 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 72-4. 

I. E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt , 5th ed. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 121-37. 

Kharga Oasis 

The southernmost and, at around 100 sq. km, 
the largest of the major Egyptian western 
oases, which is located in the Libyan Desert 
about 175 km east of Luxor. There are traces 
of Middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) occupa- 


if i • i i 


I 10 20 30 40 50 

60 70 80 90 km 


Qasr el-Mustafa Khasif 

| ! 


Nadura, Roman temple 

j □ o N 


el-Baqawat, Christian 

a3n X 


H 4 ) - 


Hibis, Persian and Ptolemaic 

| 5 ? 

temple of Amun 

1 1 


modern town of el-Kharga 

L a6 


Qasr el-Ghueida, temple 

{ fl ° 7 \ 

of Amun, Mut and Khons, 

| a 8 

Late Period and Ptolemaic 


Qasr Zaiyan, Ptolemaic 

| y 

and Roman temple and 

l f 

town (Tchonemyris) 


modem town of Bulaq 



modern town of el-Maks 





Qasr Dush, Roman temple 


of Isis and Serapis 


9 1 S % ."i 

\p... iu °.A>'" 5 

Plan of Kharga Oasis. 

tion at Kharga and its material culture was 
clearly closely connected with that of the Nile 
valley throughout the Pharaonic period. 

However, most of the surviving architectur¬ 
al remains (including settlements, stone tem¬ 
ples and cemeteries) date from the Ptolemaic 
period to Coptic times (t .332 bc-ad 500). 

G. Caton-Ti iompson, Kharga Oasis in prehistory 
(London, 1952). 

L. Giddy, Egyptian oases: Bahariya, Dakhla, 
Farafra and Kharga during pharaonic times 
(Warminster, 1987). 

Khasekhemwy (Khasekhem) C.2686 bc) 

Late 2nd-Dynastv ruler, whose reign is partic¬ 
ularly important because he was the last 
Abydene ruler (see abydos). The reign of 
DJOSER (perhaps his son) was marked by the 
transfer of pow er to MEMPHIS, the introduction 
of large-scale stone masonry and the official 
transfer to a new royal cemetery at saqqara. 




One of Khasekhemwy’s wives, Nimaathep, 
was later worshipped as the ancestress of the 
3rd Dynasty (2686-2613 BC). 

The name Khasekhemwy was usually writ¬ 
ten inside a serekh frame surmounted by 
depictions of a SETH animal alongside the 
usual HORLS falcon. Since the serekh of his pre¬ 
decessor peribsen was surmounted bv a Seth 
animal alone, it has been suggested that 
Khasekhemwy’s reign represented a return to 
religious (and perhaps also political) normali¬ 
ty, after a period of turmoil under his prede¬ 
cessor. This, however, is probably an excessive¬ 
ly historical explanation for what may essen¬ 
tially have been an iconographic phenomenon. 
The debate about the political events at the 
end of the 2nd Dynasty hinges partly on the 
question of whether the myth of the struggle 
of Horus and Seth had any historical 
antecedents. The picture was once believed to 
be further complicated by the existence of the 
name Khasekhem, which was thought to refer 
to another ruler reigning between Peribsen 
and Khasekhemwy. However, the name is now 
generally considered to be an alternative 
spelling for Khasekhemwy. 

The principal surviving monuments from 
Khasekhemwy’s reign are Tomb v in the Early 
Dynastic cemetery at Umm el-Qa‘ab and the 
Shunet el-Zebib, both of which are at abydos, 
as well as the so-called ‘fort’ of Khasekhemwy 
at HIERAKONPOLIS. Two statues of the king, as 
well as an inscribed granite door jamb (bearing 
his name and a depiction of the temple foun¬ 
dation ceremony), decorated stone vessels 
(both bearing depictions of the goddess 
nekhbet) and a fragment of a stele, were all 
excavated from the Early Dynastic temple at 
Hierakonpolis. The depictions of slain ene¬ 
mies on the two statues have been interpreted 
as evidence of military activities during his 

His tomb, nearly 70 m in length, is not only 
the last royal tomb in cemetery b at Umm el- 
Qa‘ab but also the largest and most unusual. 
The substructure consists of a central corri¬ 
dor, flanked by thirty-three store-rooms for 
funerary offerings, leading to a stone-lined 
burial chamber which is then followed by a 
continuation of the corridor flanked by ten 
further magazines. 

The Shunet el-Zebib, a huge double-walled 
mud-brick enclosure located at the desert 
edge, is the best surviving example of a group 
of ‘funerary enclosures’, probably the fore¬ 
runners of the valley temples in pyramid 
complexes, each of which was erected by one 
of the rulers buried in cemetery b. The 
Hierakonpolis ‘fort’, a large mud-brick enclo¬ 
sure also located close to the floodplain, is now 

generally considered to have been a mortuary 
monument comparable with the Shunet el- 
Zebib, although the poor standard of Emile 
Amelineau’s excavation in 1897-9 and 1905 
has hindered any more definite statement 
regarding its function. 

P. E. Newberry, ‘The Set rebellion of the second 
dynasty’, Andent Egypt (1922), 40-6. 

R. Engelbach, ‘A foundation scene of the 
second dynasty’, JEA 20 (1934), 183-4. 

M. Hoffman, Egypt before the pharaohs 
(London, 1980), 348-54. 

Me/rer frieze 

Decorative motif commonly employed in 
ancient Egyptian architecture from at least as 
early as the 3rd Dynasty (2686-2613 bc). The 
earliest shrines and temples were constructed 
from reeds tied into bundles or matting, and 
sometimes the tops of these were elaborately 
knotted. As techniques of stone architecture 
developed, these rows of knots were translated 
into decorative carved or painted friezes 
around the upper edges of buildings, thus 
constantly alluding to the idea of the first 
shrines built on the primeval mound as it 
arose from the waters of nun. 

Khenty-khety see tell vi rib 


Creator-god principally manifested in the 
form of the SCARAB or dung beetle, although he 
was sometimes depicted in tomb paintings and 
funerary papyri as a man with a scarab as a 
head or as a scarab in a boat held aloft by nun. 
In the tomb of petosiris at Tuna el-Gebel 

(r.300 bc:), he is depicted wearing the alef 
CROWN of the god Osiris. 

Because the Egyptians observed that scarab 
beetles emerged, apparently spontaneously, 
from balls of dung, it was perhaps not surpris¬ 
ing that they came to believe that the scarab 
was associated with the process of creation 
itself. Khepri is attested from at least as early 
as the 5th Dynasty (2494-2345 bc), when one 
of the spells in the pyramid texts invoked the 
sun to appear in his name of Khepri (the liter¬ 
al meaning of which was ‘he who is coming 
into being’). Because he was self-created, he 
was identified with the creator-god atlm, and 
because the movement of the sun from east to 
west was believed to be the result of being 
physically pushed like a dung-ball, he was also 
identified with the sun-god RA. As a deity 
closely associated with resurrection, Khepri 
was also believed to be swallowed by his moth¬ 
er nut each evening, and passed through her 
body to be reborn each morning. He appears 
in this guise in Chapter 83 of the book of tib 
dead: ‘I have flown up like the primeval ones. 

1 have become Khepri...’ 

From the Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 bc) 
onwards, the scarab form of amulet was being- 
produced in very large quantities. On a more 
monumental scale, it is considered likely that 
each temple originally incorporated a colossal 

Granite colossal statue of a scarab beetle, probably 
representing the god Khepri, the form taken by the 
sun-god at the time of his birth in the morning. It 
mas found in Constantinople, where it had probably 
been taken in Roman times. Date and provenance 
unknown, h. 89 cm. (ea74) 




stone scarab on a plinth, representing the tem¬ 
ple as the primeval mound from which the 
sun-god emerged to begin the process of cos¬ 
mogony. Such a scarab is still preserved in situ 
beside the sacred lake in the temple of Amun 

J. Assmann, ‘Chepre’, Lexikon der Agyptologie I, 
ed.W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westcndorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1975), 934-40. 


Ram-god whose principal cult centre was on 
the island of Elephantine at ASWAN, where he 
was worshipped, probably from the Early 
Dynastic period (3100-2686 bc) onwards, as 
part of a triad with the goddesses satet and 
anuket. In his earliest form he appears to have 

principal creator-gods (see creation). This 
creative role stemmed inevitably from the 
combination of the creative symbolism of 
moulding pottery, the traditional potency of 
the ram and the fact that the Egyptian word 
for ram, BA, also had the meaning of ‘spiritual 
essence’ (although the latter was usually writ¬ 
ten with the stork hieroglyph). Perhaps partly 
because of this punning connection with the 
concept of the ba, Khnum was regarded as the 
quintessential bet of the sun-god ra, who was 
therefore depicted with a ram’s head as he 
passed through the netherworld in the solar 

The best-preserved temple of Khnum is the 
Greco-Roman construction at esna, where his 
consort was Menhyt, a relatively unknown 

been portrayed as the first type of ram domes¬ 
ticated in Egypt (Ovis longipes), which had 
corkscrew horns extending horizontally out¬ 
wards from the head, as opposed to the later 
species (Ovis platyra ), which had horns curv¬ 
ing inwards towards the face and was more 
often associated with the god amun. 

Khnum’s strong association with both the 
Nile inundation and the fertile soil itself con¬ 
tributed to his role as a potter-god and there¬ 
fore also to his cosmogonic role as one of the 

Fragment of sandstone rmll-relief decorated with a 
representation of the god Khnum as a ram-headed 
man. 18th Dynasty, c. 1300 nc, n. 45 cm. 

lioness-goddess, although the goddess neith 
also features prominently in the reliefs. The 
texts on the walls of the Esna temple celebrate 
his creation of the entire universe including 
gods, humans, animals and plants. The so- 
called famine Stele at Sehel describes appeals 

to Khnum at a time of famine caused by low 

A. M. Badawi, Der Gott Chmtm (Gliickstadt, 

L. IIabaciii, ‘Was Anukis considered as the wife 
of Khnum or as his daughter?’, ASAE 50 (1950), 

P. Bargukt, La stele de la famine d Sehel (Cairo, 

P. Behrens, ‘Widder’, Lexikon der Agyptologie vi, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westcndorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1986), 1243—5. 


Moon-god, whose name means ‘wanderer’, 
typically represented as a mummiform human 
figure (occasionally hawk-headed) holding 

Votive stele, the upper register of which depicts a 
seated figure of the god Khons receiving a libation 
and offerings. 18th Dynasty, c. 1550-1295 nc, 
limestone, it. 38. t cm. (ea1297) 

sceptre and flail and wearing the sidelock of 
youth with a headdress consisting of a hori¬ 
zontal crescent moon surmounted by a full 
moon. Like THOTH (another lunar deity), he 
was also portrayed as a cynocephalus baboon. 
He appears to have originally been associated 
with childbirth, and in the Theban region he 
was considered to be the son of amun and 
mut. In the 20th Dynasty (1186-1069 bc) a 
temple of Khons was built within the 
precincts of the temple of Amun at karnak. At 
kom ombo, however, he was regarded as the 
son of the deities sober and hathor. 




One manifestation of Khons, known as ‘the 
provider’, was credited with the ability to 
drive out evil spirits. The Bentresh Stele (now 
in the Louvre) is an inscription composed in 
the fourth century BC but purporting to date to 
the reign of Rameses it (1279-1213 bc). It 
claims that the pharaoh sent a statue of Khons 
to a Syrian ruler in order to facilitate the cure 
of an ailing foreign princess called Bentresh. 

P. DkrcuaIN, ‘Mythes et dieux lunaires en 
Egvpte’, Sources orientates 5: La tune, mythes et 
rites (Paris, 1962), 19-68. 

G. Posen er, ‘Une reinterpretation tardive du 
nom du dieu Khonsou’, ZAS 93 (1966), 115-19. 

H. Brunner, ‘Chons’, Lexikon dcr Agyptologie r, 
ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1975), 960-3. 

Khufu (Cheops) (2589-2566 bc) 

Second ruler of the 4th Dynasty, whose name 
is an abbreviation of the phrase Khnum-kuefui 
(‘khnum protects me’). He was the son of snk- 
feru (2613-2589 bc) and the builder of the 
Great Pyramid at giza. His own burial cham¬ 
ber was found to contain only an empty sar¬ 
cophagus, but part of the funerary equipment 
of his mother, hetepheres i, survived in a 
mastaba tomb near his pyramid. Despite the 
fame of his funerary complex, the only surviv- 

Ivory statuette of Khufu, whose Horns name is 
inscribed on the right side of the throne; his 
cartouche, inscribed on the other side, is partly 
broken. This is the only surviving representation of 
the builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza. 4th 
Dynasty, c.2570 ttc, from Abydos, it. 7.5 cm 
(Cairo jt:36143) 

ing complete representation of Khufu himself 
is a small ivory statuette of a ruler wearing the 
red crown of Lower Egypt and seated on a 
throne carved with Khufu’s Horus-name, 
which was excavated from the temple of 
Khentimentiu at abydos by Flinders Petrie, 
and is now r in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. 
Several rock-carved texts at remote quarrying 
sites such as matnub and Wadi Maghara sug¬ 
gest that his reign, not unexpectedly, was 
marked by considerable quarrying and mining- 

In later tradition he was reputed to have 
been a tyrannical ruler, although these tradi¬ 
tions cannot be substantiated by contempo¬ 
rary evidence and perhaps relate simply to the 
imposing scale of his pyramid. 

W. M. F. Petrie, Abydos u (London, 1903), 30, 
pis 13-14. 

Z. I Iaw ass, ‘The Khufu statuette: is it an Old 
Kingdom sculpture?’. Melanges Gamut Moukhtar 
i (Cairo, 1985), 379-94. 

I. E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt, 5 th ed. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 98—121. 

Khyan (Seuserenra, c; 1600 bc) 

A 15th-Dynasty hyksos ruler of Lower 
Egypt, whose ‘throne name’ was Seuserenra. 
Unlike the other Hyksos pharaohs, who com¬ 
missioned very few architectural or sculptur¬ 
al monuments, Khvan was responsible for the 
decoration of religious structures at GEBELEIN 
(along with his successor Aauserra apept) and 
Bubastis (teli. basta). The international 
influence of Khyan is perhaps indicated by 
the discovery of a number of objects bearing 
his name at sites outside Egypt, including 
scarabs and seal impressions in the Levant, a 
travertine vase lid at Knossos, part of an 
obsidian vessel at the Hittite capital of 
I Iattusas (Boghazkoy). Although the two lat¬ 
ter items were presumably prestige gifts or 
trade goods, it is possible that the seals indi¬ 
cate a degree of Hyksos control over southern 
Palestine. The granite lion bearing Khyan’s 
name that was found built into a house wall at 
Baghdad and is now in the collection of the 
British Museum is usually assumed to have 
been removed from Egypt some time after the 
Hyksos period. 

R. Giveon, ‘A scaling of Khyan from the 
Shephcla of southern Palestine’, JEA 51 (1965), 

W. C. Hayes, ‘Egypt from the death of 
Ammenemes ill to Seqenenrc ir’, Cambridge 
Ancient History ii/i, ed. I. E. S. Edwards et ah, 

3rd ed. (Cambridge, 1973), 42-76. 

king lists 

Term used by Egyptologists to refer to surviv¬ 

ing lists of the names and titles of rulers of 
Egypt, some of which also incorporate infor¬ 
mation concerning the length and principal 
events of individual reigns. Virtually all of the 
surviving examples derive from religious or 
funerary contexts and usually relate to the cel¬ 
ebration of the cult of royal ancestors, w here¬ 
by each king established his own legitimacy 
and place in the succession by making regular 
offerings to a list of the names of his predeces¬ 
sors. The lists are often surprisingly accurate, 
although they are also noticeably selective, 
regularly omitting certain rulers, such as 
akjienaten (1352-1336 Be), who were consid¬ 
ered to have been in any way illegitimate or 

Several such lists exist, although only that 
in the temple of Sety t (1294-1279 bc) at aby¬ 
dos, listing seventy-six kings from menes to 
Sety himself, remains in its original context. A 
second list, from the nearby temple of 
Rameses it (1279-1213 bc), is now in the 
British Museum, and an earlier example from 
the temple of Amun at karnak, listing sixty- 
two kings from Menes to Thutmose in 
(1479—1425 bc), is now in the Louvre. 

The Saqqara Tablet, an example of a private 
funerary cult of the royal ancestors, was found 
in the tomb of a scribe called Tcnroy; it lists 
fifty-seven rulers from the 1st Dynasty until 
the reign of Rameses u. Another private exam¬ 
ple of a king list was found in the tomb of 
Amenmessu at Thebes (tt373; r. 1300 bc), 
where the deceased is show n worshipping the 
statues of thirteen pharaohs. 

The hieratic papyrus known as the Turin 
royal canon, compiled in the 19th Dynasty', 
and the basalt stele known as the Palermo 
stone, dating from the end of the 5th 
Dynasty, are valuable records, although both 
are incomplete, much of the Turin Canon hav¬ 
ing been lost in modern times. There are also a 
few r much briefer king lists, such as a graffito 
at the mining and quarrying site of Wadi 
Hammamat, dated palaeographically to the 
12th Dynasty (1985-1795 bc), which consists 
of the names of five 4th-Dvnastv rulers and 

The historian manktho must have used 
such king lists, presumably in the form of 
papyrus copies in temple libraries, when he 
w ? as compiling his account of the history of 
Egypt, which is known only from the some¬ 
times contradictory fragments preserved in 
the works of other ancient authors. 

W. B. Emery , Archaic Egypt (Harmondsworth, 
1961), 21-4. 

D. B. Redford, Pharaonic king-lists, annals and 
day-books: a contribution to the study of the 
Egyptian sense of history (Mississauga, 1986). 




13. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 21-3. 


The concept of kingship and the divinity of 
the pharaoh were central to Egyptian society 
and religion. At the very beginning of 
Egyptian history, the evidence from such sites 
as ajjydos, naqada and saqqara suggests that 
the basic nature of Egyptian administration 
and the strong association between the king 
and the falcon-god i iorus had already become 
well established. A great deal of the ideology 
surrounding Egyptian kingship can be 
deduced to some extent from the development 
of the royal TITULARY, which fulfilled a num¬ 
ber of roles, including the establishment of the 
relationships between the king and the gods, 
and the explanation of how each reign related 
to the kingship as a whole. 

The title nesw-bit (literally ‘he of the sedge 
and the bee 1 ) is usually translated as ‘King of 
Upper and Lower Egypt 1 but its true meaning 
is quite different, and considerably more com¬ 
plex, in that nesw appears to mean the 
unchanging divine king (almost the kingship 
itself), while bit seems to be a more ephemeral 
reference to the individual holder of the king- 
ship. Each king was therefore a combination of 
the divine and the mortal, the nesw and the bit, 
in the same way that the living king was linked 
with Horus and the dead kings, the royal 
ancestors (sec king lists), were associated 
with OSIRIS, 

Ideally the kingship passed from father to 
son, and each king was usually keen to demon¬ 
strate his lilial links with the previous ruler. 
On a practical level, the ruler could demon¬ 
strate the continuity of the kingship by ensur¬ 
ing that his predecessor’s mortuary temple 
and tomb were completed, and on a more 
political level he would do his best to demon¬ 
strate that he was the chosen heir whose right 
to rule was ensured by his own divinity. 
Sometimes the attempts of certain rulers to 
demonstrate their unquestioned right to the 
kingship have been misinterpreted as ‘propa¬ 
gandist 1 efforts to distort the truth by means 
of the various reliefs and inscriptions depict¬ 
ing such events as their divine birth and the 
bestowal of the kingship by the gods. 

Although there may have been a certain 
amount of political (rather than religious) 
impetus behind the works of such unusual 
rulers as Queen i-iatshepslt (1473-1458 bc), 
most of the surviving references to the king- 
ship belong much more within the overall role 
of the king in imposing order and preventing 
chaos. The function of the king as the repre¬ 
sentative of the gods was to preserve and 

Detail of a section of wall-relief in the temple of 
Hathor at Dendera, showing the writing of the 
word pharaoh' (per-aa) in a cartouche. The 
inscriptions in temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman 
periods often include cartouches inscribed with this 
generic term for the king, rather than with a 
specific ruler's name. (t. sum) 

restore the original harmony of the universe, 
therefore a great deal of the iconography in 
Egyptian temples, tombs and palaces was con¬ 
cerned much more with this overall aim than 
with the individual circumstances of the ruler 
at any particular point in time. Just as it was 
essential to stress the king’s divine birth, so 
the celebration and depiction of each sed fes¬ 
tival (royal jubilee) was intended to ensure 
that the king was still capable of performing 
his ritual role. 

The term per-aa (‘great house’) - which 
was eventually transformed, via Greek, into 
the word pharaoh - was initially used to 
describe the royal court or indeed the state 
itself, in the sense thai the ‘great house 1 was 
the overarching entity responsible for the 
taxation of the lesser ‘houses’ (perm), such as 
the temple lands and private estates. By 
extension, from the late 18th Dynasty 
onwards, the term began to be used to refer 
to the king himself. 

H. Frankfort, Kingship and the gods (Chicago, 

H. W. F airman, ‘The kingship rituals of Egypt 1 , 
Myth, ritual and kingship , ed. S. II. Hooker 
(Oxford, 1958), 74—104. 

G. Posener, De la divinite du pharaon (Paris, 


B. G. Trigger ct al., Ancient Egypt: a social 
history (Cambridge, 1983), 52-61,71-6,204-25, 

N. Grimm., Les termes de la propagande royal 
egyptienne de la xixe dynastic a la conquete 
d\Alexandre (Paris, 1986). 

M. A. Bonheme and A. Fogeau, Pharaon, les 
secrets du pouvoir (Paris, 1988). 

J. D. Ray, ‘The pharaohs and their court 1 , Egypt: 
ancient culture, modern land, ed. J. Malek 
(Sydney, 1993), 68-77. 


Type of small openwork temple with support¬ 
ing pillars, the best known examples being that 
of Senusret i (1965-1920 nc) at larval, and 
that of Trajan (ad 98-117) at philae. The term 
is sometimes also employed to refer to a small 
sun-shade or pavilion for the use of a king or 

kohl see cosmetics 


Term which has entered Arabic from the 
Coptic word xmfl (‘village 1 ) and is generally 
used to refer to the mounds made up of the 
ruins of ancient settlements. Its meaning is 
therefore similar to the Arabic word tell , 
although the latter is more commonly applied 
to the higher settlement mounds of the Levant 
and Mesopotamia. 

Korn Abu Billo (Terenuthis) 

Site of a Pharaonic and Greco-Roman town 
situated in the western Delta, which derives 
its Greek name from that of the snake- 
goddess renknutet, whose cult was cele¬ 
brated in the area. The early Ptolemaic 
temple remains, excavated by F. LI. Griffith 
in 1887-8, were dedicated to the goddess 
Hathor in her manifestation of‘mistress of 
turquoise’, and there are nearby burials of 
sacred cows presumably relating to the cult 
of Hathor. The importance of this temple 
rests primarily on the fact that it is one of the 
few monuments constructed during the 
reign of the first ptolemy (Ptolemy i Soter; 
305—285 uc). During the Roman period the 
economic importance of Terenuthis rested 
on the role it played in the procurement and 
trading of natron and salt, owing to the 
proximity of the road leading lo Wadi 

The nearby cemetery spans a much broader 
period, ranging from the Old Kingdom to the 
late Roman period. Some of the New 
Kingdom graves contained ‘slipper-coffins’ 
made of pottery and decorated with ugly facial 
features, while many of the Roman-period 
tombs were marked bv unusual stelae consist¬ 
ing of relief representations of the deceased 
either standing or lying on a couch and 
accompanied by an inscription in demotic or 

A. Hermann, ‘Die Deltastadt Terenuthis und 
ihre Gottin’, MDAIK 5 (1934), 169-72. 

13. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography iv, lsted. (Oxford, 1934), 67-9. 
j. G. Griffiths, ‘Terenuthis’, Lexikon der 
Agypto/ogie vi, ed. W. Hclck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1986), 424. 



Kom el-Ahmar see hierakonpoeis 

Kom el-Hisn (anc. Imu) 

Site of the town of Tmu, located in the west¬ 
ern Delta, about 12 km south of naukratis. 
When it was first surveyed by F. LI. Griffith, 
in 1885, a large proportion of the mound was 
still in existence, but it is now much reduced 
by the work of sebakhin (farmers quarrying 
ancient mud-brick for use as fertilizer). The 
principal mound is dominated by the ruins of 
a temple dedicated to the local goddess, 
seki imet-hathor, which was established by 
SF.NUSRET 1 (1965-1920 bc) in the early 12th 

When the large rectangular temple enclo¬ 
sure was excavated in 1943-6 bv the Egyptian 
archaeologists A. Hamada and M. el-Amir, it 
was found to contain various items of Middle 
and New Kingdom sculpture, including stat¬ 
ues of Amcncmhat in (1855-1808 bc) and 
Rameses n (1279—1213 bc). 

In the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), the 
town of Imu replaced the earlier (still undis¬ 
covered) town of Hwt-ihyt as the capital of the 
third Lower Egyptian nome. The nearby 
cemetery contains hundreds of graves, most of 
which date from the First Intermediate Period 
(2181-2055 bc) to the New Kingdom. 

According to the brief report describing a 
Canadian survey of the site in 1980, the most 
impressive surviving architectural feature at 
Kom el-Hisn is the painted, stone-built 
Middle Kingdom tomb of Khesuwer, ‘over¬ 
seer of prophets’. 

E. A. Gardner, Naukratis ii (London, 1888), 

G. Daressy, ‘Rapport sur Kom el-Hisn’, ASAE 
4(1903), 281-3. 

B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography tv, lsted. (Oxford, 1934), 51—2. 

A. Hamada and S. Farid, ‘Excavations at Kom 
el-Hisn, season 1945’, ASAE 46 (1947), 


—, ‘Excavations at Kom el-Hisn, 1946’, ASAE 
48 (1948), 299-325. 

P. Brodie et al., ‘Kom el-IIisn’, Cities of the Delta 
i: Naukratis (Malibu, 1981), 81-5. 

Kom Medinet Ghurob see curob 

Kom Ombo (anc. Ombos) 

Temple and associated settlement site located 
40 km north of Aswan, with surviving struc¬ 
tural remains dating from at least as early as 
the 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 bc), although 
there are also a number of Upper Palaeolithic 
sites scattered over the surrounding region. 

The surviving temple buildings, first cleared 
of debris by Jacques de Morgan in 1893, were 
dedicated to the deities Sobek and Haroeris 
(see horl's) and date mainly to the Ptolemaic 
and Roman periods (332 BC-AD 395), most ol 
the relief decoration having been completed in 
the first century BC. The architectural plan of 
the temple is unusual in that it effective!} 
combines two traditional cult temples into 
one, each side having its own individual suc¬ 
cession of gateways and chapels. 

J. de Morgan et al., Kom Ombos , 2 vols (Vienna, 

Detail of a section of wall-relief in the temple of 
floras and Sobek at Kom Ombo, showing Ptolemy 
ti Philopat or making offerings to the crocodile-god 
Sobek. Ptolemaic period, c. 221 -205 nc (t. sit in) 

Plan of the double temple of Horns and Sobek al 
Kom Ombo. 

1 forecourt 7 inner vestibule 

2 altar 8 (northern) sanctuary of 

3 first hypostyle hall Horus (Haroeris) 

4 second hypostyle hall 9 (southern) sanctuary of Sobek 

5 outer vestibule 10 inner corridor 

6 middle vestibule 11 outer corridor 

12 position of false door stele 



Kom el-Shuqafa see Alexandria 

KoptOS (Qift, anc. Kebet) 

Temple and town site located about 40 km 
north of Luxor, at the entrance to the Wadi 
Hammamat. This valley contained gold mines 
and breccia quarries and also served as the 
principal trade-route between the Nile valley 
and the Red Sea. The benefits of the town’s 
location, on the east bank of the Nile, are con¬ 
sidered to have been the primary reason for 
the foundation and subsequent prosperity of 
the Pharaonic settlement at Koptos. To the 
east of the main site there are cemeteries dat¬ 
ing to the late Predynastie period 
(c.3300-3100 bc), when naqada, situated 
almost opposite Koptos on the west bank, was 
the dominant town in the region. 

The surviving settlement remains at Koptos 
date back to the beginning of the historical 
period (r.3000 bc), including three colossal 

limestone statues of the local fertility-god min 
and various other items of ‘preformal 1 sculp¬ 
ture, which were excavated by Flinders Petrie 
in an Early Dynastic context at the temple of 
Min. The visible remains of the temple date 
mainly from the New Kingdom onwards. The 
Greek and Roman monuments at Koptos, 
including a small temple of ISIS at the nearby 
site of el-Qafa, have been studied by Claude 
Traunecker and Laure Pantalacci. 

W. M. F. Petrie, Koptos (London, 1896). 

A. J. Reinach, Rapports sur les fouilles de Koptos 
(Paris, 1910). 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 64-91. 

C. Traunecker and L. Pantalacci, ‘Le temple 
d’Isi a El Qal‘a pres de Coptos’, Akten Miinchen 
1985 hi, ed. S. Schoske (Hamburg, 1989), 
201 - 10 . 

Kumma see semna 

Site in the fifth-cataract region of Nubia, 
where Thutmose i (1504-1492 bc) and 
Thutmose m (1479-1425 bc) both carved 
inscriptions on boulders marking the southern 
frontier of Egypt. The choice of this spot for 
the erection of the stelae, close to the southern 
end of the so-called Korosko Road, suggests 
that an important overland trade-route, pass¬ 
ing through the gold-bearing region of the 
Wadis Allaqi and Gabgaba, was probably 
already being used in the early New Kingdom. 

W. Y. Adams, Nubia: corridor to Africa , 2nd ed. 
(London and Princeton, 1984), fig. 33. 

Kurru, el- 

Royal necropolis of the Napatan period 
(c. 1000—300 bc), situated in Upper Nubia on 
the Dongola reach of the Nile. The site was 
first used from c. 1000 bc onwards for the 
tumulus-burials of the rulers of the kingdom 
of Kush, the political focus of which was nap- 
ata, which also includes the sites of Gebel 
Barkal, nuri and Sanam. 

In the later Napatan period (c. 750-653 bc), 

the royal tombs at cl-Kurru were built in the 
style of miniature Egyptian pyramids, starting 
with that of piy (747-716 bc), the founder of 
the 25th Dynasty. Undecorated rectangular 
funerary chapels were located immediately 
beside the east faces of each of the superstruc¬ 
tures. The subterranean burial chambers 
could be entered down long flights of steps 
leading from shafts also situated to the east of 
each pyramid. Adjacent to the pyramidal 
tombs, which include those of siiabaqo 
(716-702 bc), Shabitqo (702-690 bc) and 
tanutamani (664-656 bc), are twenty-four 
roughly contemporary horse burials. After the 
mid seventh century bc:, el-Kurru was effec¬ 
tively abandoned and Nuri became the site of 
the new cemetery of the Napatan rulers. 

D. Dlm IAM, The royal cemeteries of Kush, t: 
El-Kurru (Boston, 1950). 

Kush see kerma; nubia and viceroy of kusli 

Limestone sunk relief depicting Senusret / engaged 
in a sed -festival ritual in the presence of the 
fertility-god Min. The king is shown running 
between boundary stones symbolizing the limits of 
his kingdom; in front of him are his throne name 
and Ilorus name. The tine of vertical text below 
the names reads *hastening by boat to Min, the 
great god who is in the midst of his city ’. 12th 
Dynasty, c.1950 bc, h. 1.11 m. (petrif. museum, 


;ahun, EL- 



Lahun, el- 

Necropolis and town-site, located at the east¬ 
ern edge of the fayum region, about 100 km 
southeast of Cairo. The principal monument is 
the pyramid complex of Senusret II 
(1880-1874 ik ). The internal arrangement of 
the superstructure consisted of a knoll of rock, 
surmounted by a network of stone-built 
retaining walls stabilizing the mud-brick 
matrix of the building. One of the most 
unusual features of Senusret ii’s monument is 
the fact that, unlike most other pyramids, the 
entrance is from the south rather than the 
north, perhaps because he was more con¬ 
cerned with the security of the tomb than its 
alignment with the circumpolar stars. The 
burial chamber contains an exquisite red gran¬ 
ite sarcophagus and a travertine offering table. 
In one of the four shaft-tombs on the south 
side of the pyramid. Flinders Petrie and Guy 
Brunton discovered the jewellers of 
Sithathoriunet, including items bearing the 

Plan of the pyramid complex of Senusret it at 
el-Lahun and the associated settlement. 

The pyramid of Senusret it at efLahun is 
constructed of mud-brick around a series of 
limestone walls , some of which can be seen at the 
base of the pyramid. The structure has lost its outer 
casing and so has weathered to a rounded profile. 

(p. /: NICHOLSON) 

cartouches of Senusret II and Amenemhat ill 
(1855-1808 ik:). 

Beside Senusret u’s Valley Temple are the 
remains of Kahun, a rectangular, planned 
settlement, measuring about 384 m x 335 m, 
which is thought to have originally housed 
the officials responsible for Senusret’s royal 
mortuary cult but was later regarded as a 
town in its own right, having a /ttf/j'-‘(mayor). 
Small surviving areas of such settlements 
have been found at other sites in the immedi¬ 
ate vicinity of Old and Middle Kingdom 
pyramids. A large number of HIERATIC papyri, 
dating to the late Middle Kingdom 
(c. 1850-1650 ik.) and ranging from religious 
documents to private correspondence, were 
discovered by Flinders Petrie in 1889-90 
(now in the Petrie Museum, University 
College London). Further documents were 
later discovered as a result of illicit excava¬ 
tions; these papyri, the business letters of the 
temple scribe Horemsaf, are now in Berlin 
and have not yet been fully published. 

W. M. F. Pi; trik, Kahun , Gurob and Hawara 
(London, 1890). 

—, Illahun, Kahun and Gurob (London, 1891). 

F. LI. Griffith, Hieratic papyri from Kahun and 
Gurob (London, 1898). 

W. M. F. Pi-trie, G. Brunton and M. A. 

Murray, Lahun n (London, 1923). 

II. E. WiNLOCK, The treasure ofEl-Lahun (New 
York, 1934). 

B. Gunn, The name of the pyramid town of 
Sesostris u'JEA 31 (1945), 106-7. 

U. Lift, ‘Illahunstudien’, Oikumene 3 (1982), 
101-56; 4 (1983), 121-79; 5 (1986), 117-53. [the 

B. J., Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 149—57. 

U. Li f t, Das Archiv von Illahun (Hieratische 
Papyri) (Berlin, 1992). 

I. E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt, 5th ed. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 212-13. 


Ancient Egyptian is probably the second old 
est written language in the world, being pre¬ 
ceded only by SUMERIAN in western Asia. It 
forms one of the five branches of a family of 
languages spoken in north Africa and the 
ancient Near East, known as Afro-Asiatic (or 
Hamito-Semitic). Because of various common 
elements of vocabulary and grammar, these 
five linguistic branches arc thought to derive 
from an earlier ‘proto-language’. Ancient 
Egyptian therefore includes certain words that 
are identical to those in such languages as 
Hebrew, Berber and Tuareg. 

Egyptian is also the earliest written Ian 
guage in which verbs have different ‘aspects 
rather than tenses, which means that the 
emphasis is placed on whether an action has 
been completed or not, rather than whether it 
occurred in the past, present or future. A cru¬ 
cial distinction needs to be made between the 
stages in the development of the Egyptian lan¬ 
guage and the various phases of its written 



Chart showing the different types of hieroglyphic 

form. The language has one distinet break, in 
the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 hc), when 
‘synthetic’ Old and Middle Egyptian, charac¬ 
terized by inflected verb endings, was 
replaced, in the spoken language at least, by 
the more complex ‘analytical’ form of Late 
Egyptian, with a verbal structure consisting of 
articulated elements. Egyptian is the only ‘lan¬ 
guage of aspect" for which the change from the 
‘synthetic’ stage to ‘analytical’ can actually be 
studied in its written form. 

The written form of Egyptian, on the other 
hand, passed through several phases. In the 
first stage, the stone-carved hikrogjati lie: sys¬ 
tem was used for funerary and religious texts 
while the cursive hieratic script was used for 
administrative and literary texts. By the 25th 
to 26th Dynasties (747-525 ur.) demotic 
emerged, and for a number of centuries the 
Greek and demotic scripts were used side by 

The demotic and hieroglyphic writing sys¬ 
tems began to be replaced in the third century 
ad by Coptic, which consisted of the Greek 

alphabet combined with six demotie signs. 
This was actually a less suitable means of ren¬ 
dering the Egyptian language, but it was intro¬ 
duced for purely religious and cultural rea¬ 
sons: Egypt had become a Christian country 
and the hieroglyphic system and its derivatives 
were considered to be fundamentally ‘pre- 
Christian’ in their connotations. Nevertheless, 
the Egyptian language itself, despite being 
written in an adaptation of die Greek alpha¬ 
bet, has survived in a fossilized form in the 
liturgy of the Coptic church even after the 
emergence of Arabic as the spoken language of 

Since the pre-Coptic Egyptian writing sys¬ 
tems consisted purely of consonants, Coptic 
texts (as well as occasional instances of Greek, 
Akkadian and Babylonian documents that 
transcribe Egyptian words and names into 
other scripts) have proved extremely useful in 
terms of working out the vocalization of the 
Egyptian language. 

A. H. G ardinkr, Egyptian grammar, being an 
introduction to the study of hieroglyphs, 3rd ed. 
(Oxford, 1957). 

T. C. Hodge, Afruasiutic: a survey (The Hague, 

J. and T. Bynon (eds), Hamito-Semitica: 
proceedings of a colloquium held by the historical 
section of the Linguistics Association (Great 
Britain), March 1970 (The Hague, 1975). 

C. C. Walters, An elementary Coptic grammar of 
the Sahidic dialect, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1983). 

lapis lazuli (Egyptian kheshed) 
Metamorphosed form of limestone, rich in the 
blue mineral lazurite (a complex feldspathoid), 
which is dark blue in colour and often flecked 
with impurities of calcite, iron pyrites or gold. 
The Egyptians considered that its appearance 
imitated that of the heavens, therefore they 
considered it to be superior to all materials 
other than gold and silver. They used it exten¬ 
sively in JEWELLERY until the Late Period 
(747—332 nc), when it was particularly popular 
for amulets. It was frequently described as 
‘true’ kheshed, to distinguish it from imitations 
made in faience or glass. Its primary use was 
as inlay in jewellery, although small vessels are 
also known, and it could also be used as inlay 
in the eyes of figurines. 

Unlike most other stones used in Egyptian 
jewellery, it does not occur naturally in the 
deserts of Egypt but had to be imported 



Detail of a bracelet consisting of a lapis lazuli 
scarab set in gold. The beads are of gold, cornelian 
and faience. L. of scarab 2.8 cm. (ea65616) 

either directly from Badakhshan (in north¬ 
eastern Afghanistan) or indirectly, as tribute 
or trade goods from the Near East. Despite its 
exotic origin it was already in use as early as 
the Predynastic period, showing that far- 
reaching exchange networks between north 
Africa and western Asia must have already 
existed in the fourth millennium bc. It is rep¬ 
resented in temple scenes at MEDINET habu 
and at KARNAK. 

A. LUCAS, Ancient Egyptian materials and 
industries , 4th ed. (London, 1962), 398—400. 

G. Herrmann, "Lapis lazuli: the early phases of 
its trade’, Iraq 30 (1968), 21-57. 

J. C. Payne, ‘Lapis lazuli in early Egypt’, Iraq 30 
(1968), 58-61. 

E. Porada, ‘A lapis lazuli figurine from 
Hierakonpolis in Egypt’, Iranica Antiqua 15 
(1980), 175-80. 

lapwing see rekjiyt bird 

Late Period (747-332 bc) 

Phase of Egyptian history comprising the 25th 
to 31st Dynasties, stretching from the end of 
to the arrival of Alexander the great (332 
bc). The Third Intermediate Period was dom¬ 
inated by simultaneous dynasties of rulers in 
the Delta and the Theban region, but SHABAQO 
(716-702 bc), the second ruler of the Kushite 
25th Dynasty, exerted Nubian influence over 
the north both by military conquest and by 
moving the administrative centre back from 
Thebes to Memphis. 

Despite the fact that the 25th-Dynasty 

kings ruled over a larger territory than in the 
preceding period, the state does not seem to 
have been truly unified during this period, 
with local princes apparently maintaining 
considerable independence. Nevertheless, 
the combined kingdom of Egypt and Nubia 
was a formidable one, rivalled only by the 
rising empire of the ASSYRIAN rulers. The 
Egyptian kings attempted to thwart the 
spread of Assyria into the Levant by joining 
forces with some of the Palestinian rulers. 
Not only did they fail to overthrow the 
Assyrians, but in 674 bc they were them¬ 
selves threatened, when Esarhaddon 
(681-669 bc) mounted an invasion of 
Egypt. This attack failed, and although his 
second campaign, in 671 bc, was more suc¬ 
cessful, he was still unable to suppress all 
opposition. The Egyptian king taiiarqo 
(690—664 bc), who had fled to Nubia, was 
therefore able to reoccupv Memphis. 
However, the Assyrians attacked again, this 
time under Ashurbanipal (669-627 bc), who 
was aided by two local rulers from sais — 
nekau i (672-664 bc) and his son Psamtek - 
and was thus able finally to establish 
Assyrian rule over Egypt. Nekau I was left 
as governor, but was killed by the armies of 
tanutamani (664-656 bc), the son and suc¬ 
cessor of Taharqo. 

The constant breaking of Assyrian rule led 
to severe reprisals, and Ashurbanipal returned 
to Egypt at some point after 663 bc, laying 
waste to great areas of the country and forcing 
Tanutamani to flee back to Nubia. However, 
this by no means put paid to Egyptian inde¬ 
pendence: a rebellion in BABYLONIA caused 
Ashurbanipal to withdraw, and, with 
Tanutamani also gone, Nekau i’s son, psamtek i 
(664-610 bc), was able to appoint himself king 

as the first full ruler of the 26th saite Dynasty 
(664-525 bc). 

Psamtek was an astute ruler and sought to 
establish a sense of national identity while at 
the same time making use of foreign merce¬ 
naries, notably Greeks and Carians, to sup¬ 
press those local rulers who might oppose 
him. From this time onwards Egypt was 
increasingly drawn into the Classical and 
Hellenistic sphere. Later in the dynasty, a 
trading colony of GREEKS was established; the 
Greek writer Herodotus credits this act to 
ahmose ii (570-526 bc), although it is more 
probable that Ahmose simply reorganized one 
of a number of existing Greek settlements. 
Foreign policy in the 26th Dynasty had large¬ 
ly been concerned with attempting to preserve 
the balance of power, but by the time that 
Ahmose u’s son, Psamtek m (526-525 bc), 
succeeded to the throne, PERSIA had become 
the dominant power. 

In 525 bc Cambvses (525-522 bc:) invaded 
Egypt, establishing the Persian 27th Dynasty 
(525-404 bc). He appears to have been an 
unpopular ruler, but his successor Darius i 
(522-486 bc) undertook major building works, 
including the completion of projects that had 
been initiated by Saite rulers. The Egyptians, 
however, presumably inspired by Greek victo¬ 
ries over the Persians, embarked on a course of 
rebellion, supported by military aid from the 

In 404 bc: Egyptian unrest reached a climax 
in the revolt by Amyrtaios of Sais which 
resulted in the expulsion of the Persians, first 
from the Delta, and within four years from the 
whole country. But Amyrtaios (404-399 bc.) 
proved to be the only king of the 28th 
Dynasty: in 399 bc: the throne was usurped by 
Nefaarud (Nepherites) i (399-393 bc), ruling 




from another Delta city, mkndes. He and his 
successors of the 29th Dynasty (399-380 bc) 
relied heavily upon foreign mercenaries for 
their military power, and in this way were able 
to stave off further Persian incursions. Finally 
they were themselves displaced by the 30th- 
Dynastv rulers, beginning with nectanebo i 
(380-362 bc). 

This new line continued the ‘nationalistic’ 
air of the 25th and 26th Dynasties, particu¬ 
larly in terms of the renewal of building 
activity and increased devotion to traditional 
cults. The cults of sacred animals were par¬ 
ticularly important at this time, and it is pos¬ 
sible that the various industries and priest¬ 
hoods associated with the sacred animal 
necropoleis became an important part of the 

Persian attempts at re-conquest were 
thwarted until 343 bc when Nectanebo n 
(360-343 bc), the last native pharaoh, was 
defeated by Artaxerxes m Ochus (343—338 bc) 
who established the 31st Dynasty or Second 
Persian Period (343-332 bc). This short sec¬ 
ond phase of Persian domination was particu¬ 
larly unwelcome; therefore the conquering 
armies of Alexander the Great (332-323 bc) in 
332 bc appear to have encountered little oppo¬ 
sition. With the Macedonian conquest, Egypt 
became established as part of the Hellenistic 
and Mediterranean world, under the control 
of Alexander’s successors the Ptolemies (see 

F. K. Kienitz, Die politische Geschichte Agyptens 
vom 7. bis zum 4. fahrhundert vor der Zeitwende 
(Berlin, 1953). 

E. R. Russmann, The representation of the king, 
xxith Dynasty (Brussels, 1974). 

A. J. Spalinger, ‘Esarhaddon and Egypt: an 
analysis of the first invasion of Egypt’, Orientalia 
43 (1974), 295-326. 

A. Lloyd, ‘The Late Period, 664-323 bc’, 

Ancient Egypt: a social history , cd. B. G. Trigger 
etal. (Cambridge, 1983), 279-348. 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 334-82. 

J. H. Johnson (ed.), Life in a multi-cultural 
society: Egypt from Cambyses to Constantine and 
beyond (Chicago, 1992). 


A Greek writer states that there was a 
Pharaonic legal code set out in eight books, 
but this is known only from the Late Period 
(747-332 bc); therefore the situation in earlier 
times is more difficult to assess. The law' is a 
particularly difficult area of study because the 
translation of ancient terms into modern legal 
language tends to give them a misleading air of 

Egyptian law, like the codes of ETHICS, was 
essentially based on the concept of MAAT 
(‘decorum’ or ‘correctness’), in other words 
the common-sense view of right and w rong as 
defined by the social norms of the day. Since 
the pharaoh was a living god, ruling by divine 
right, it was clearly he who was the supreme 
judge and law-giver (see kingship). However, 
as with his priestly duties, it was often found 
necessary to delegate his authority 

The principles of the Pharaonic legal sys¬ 
tem are thought to have been codified to some 
extent, but no such documents have survived. 
There are, however, a number of funerary 
texts outlining the duties of such high officials 
as the vizier, which can shed some indirect 
light on the legal practices. In theory, anyone 
w'ith a grievance could take a case to the vizier, 
although actually gaining an audience would 

F vff 1 - w If 

Detail from the Salt Papyrus, which contains the 
petition of the workman Amennakhte denouncing 
the crimes of the foreman Paneb. Late 19th 
Dynasty, c A200 bc, from Deir el-Medina. 

no doubt often have been difficult. That some 
cases were clearly dealt with in this way is 
reflected in the popular Middle Kingdom 
(2055-1650 bc) narrative known as the Tale of 
the Eloquent Peasant. 

Definitions of official roles probably existed 
for all important offices, thus allocating them 
places in the overall administrative hierarchy. 
The Egyptians do not appear to have differen¬ 
tiated between administrative and legal func¬ 
tions, so that any person in authority might, in 
certain circumstances, make legal judgements. 
However, the title ‘overseer of the six great 
mansions’ seems to have been held by the 
ancient equivalent of a ‘magistrate’ and the 
term ‘mansions’ probably referred to the main 

law court in Thebes (although there must 
surely have been other such courts). It is 
thought that a gold MAAT pendant (now r in the 
British Museum) may have been the official 
‘badge’ held by legal officials. Some surviving 
statues of high officials from the Late Period 
are shown wearing such a chain and pendant. 
The cases that they examined would be 
reported to the pharaoh, who may have been 
responsible for deciding the punishment in 
the most serious cases. 

Verdicts and punishments were probably- 
based loosely on precedent with variations 
being introduced where appropriate. Since the 
records of cases were archived at the temple or 
vizierate offices, references to past cases were 
no doubt usually possible. It was thanks to this 
practice of automatically archiving such docu¬ 
ments that the famous trial of tomb-robbers, 
recorded on the Leopold II— Amherst Papyrus, 
was preserved. Unfortunately, this papyrus 
does not record the sentences of the accused. 
It seems, however, that Egyptian law r issued 
similar punishments to all those who had com¬ 
mitted similar offences, irrespective of varia¬ 
tions in wealth or status (except in the case of 
SLAVES). Judgements and decisions were evi¬ 
dently recorded by official scribes. 

In cases where individuals w'ere sentenced 
to exile, their children w r ere automatically out¬ 
lawed along with them. Similarly, families 
could suffer imprisonment if a relative desert¬ 
ed from military service, or defaulted on the 
corvee labour demanded by the state. Papyrus 
Brooklyn 35.1446, dating to the 13th Dynasty 
(c. 1795-1650 bc), records the punishment 
duties imposed on labour defaulters. 

Minor cases were tried by councils of 
elders, each town having its own local kenbet in 
charge of the judiciary. For example, a number 
of cases survive from the New' Kingdom 
(1550-1069 bc), in the form of the records of 
the workmen at deir el-medina, mostly deal¬ 
ing with small matters such as non-repayment 
of loans. Individuals frequently kept their ow n 
notes of such cases on ostraca, presumably so 
that if repayments were not made in the 
agreed lime they could remind those present 
at the judgement and receive redress. 

Cases were sometimes judged by divine 
oracles rather than by human magistrates. It 
is knowm from Deir el-Medina, for instance, 
that the deified founder of the village, 
Amenhotep i (1525—1504 bc), was often asked 
to decide on particular cases. It is unclear how 
this divine judgement was actually given, but 
it seems that ostraca for and against the accu¬ 
sation w'ould be put at each side of the street 
and the god’s image would incline toward 
whichever verdict was deemed appropriate. 




A national variant on this was the giving of the 
law through the oracle of Amun, which 
was practised during the 21st Dynasty 
(1069-945 bc). 

In the Ptolemaic period (332-30 bc), 
Egyptian law existed alongside that of the 
Greeks, although only certain cases could be 
tried under it. Greeks were favoured by the 
law, and cases against them were generally 
heard in the state courts. The Romans intro¬ 
duced a system of law that was common 
throughout the empire, with only summary 

J. Wilson, ‘Authority and law in ancient Egypt’, 
Journal of the. American Oriental Society 
Supplement 17 (1954), 1-7. 

S. P. Vleeming, ‘The days on which the Knht 
used to gather’, Gleanings from Deir el-A'Iedina , 
ed. R. J. Demaree and J. J. Janseen (Leiden, 

1982), 183-92. 

J. Sarraf, La notion du droit d'apres les artciens 
egyptiens (Vatican City, 1984). 

I. Harari, ‘Les decrets royaux: source du droit’, 
Of 8 (1987), 93-101. 

J. Tyldesley, The judgement of the pharaoh: crime 
and punishment in ancient Egypt (London 2000). 

Leontopolis see tell el-muqdam 

Lepsius, Karl Richard (1810-84) 

German Egyptologist who led the Prussian 
expedition to Egypt in 1842-5. He was born in 
Naumburg-am-Saale and educated at the uni¬ 
versities of Leipzig, Gottingen and Berlin, 
completing a doctorate in 1833. It was after 
the completion of this dissertation that he 
began to study Egyptology in Paris, using 
Jean-Frangois cn ampollion’s newly published 
grammar to learn the ancient Egyptian lan¬ 
guage. Like Champollion, he spent several 
years visiting European collections of 
Egyptian antiquities before making his first 
visit to Egypt in 1842. He took with him a 
team of Prussian scholars, including a skilled 
draughtsman, and his main aim was to record 
the major monuments and collect antiquities, 
in the same way as the earlier Napoleonic 
expedition (see EGYPTOLOGY). He also worked 
in Sudan and Palestine, sending some fifteen 
thousand antiquities and plaster casts back to 
Prussia in the course of his travels. 

In 1849-59 he published the results of the 
expedition in the form of an immense twelve- 
volume work, Denkmaelcr aits Aegypten und 
Aethiopien, which, like the Napoleonic 
Description de TEgyple, still provides useful 
information for modern archaeologists (many 
of the sites and monuments having severely 
deteriorated since the mid nineteenth cen¬ 
tury). In 1865, Lepsius was appointed as 

Keeper of the Egyptian collections in the 
Berlin Museum, and the following year he 
returned to Egypt with an expedition to 
record the monuments of the eastern Delta 
and Suez region, in the course of which he 
discovered the Canopus Decree at tanks, a 
bilingual document that provided a useful lin¬ 
guistic comparison with the ROSETTA s tone. 

His career continued with numerous fur¬ 
ther publications as well as the editing of the 
principal German Egyptological journal 
(Zeitschrift fur dgyplische Sprache und 
Ulertumskunde ), and in 1869 he visited Egypt 
for the last time in order to witness the inau¬ 
guration of the Suez Canal. He died in Berlin 
in 1884, having made one of the greatest indi¬ 
vidual contributions in the history of 

K. R. Lepsius, Denkmaelcr aus Aegypten und 
Aethiopien , 12 vols (Leipzig, 1849-59). 

—, Discoveries in Egypt (London, 1852). 

—, Kdnigshuch der alien Aegypter, 2 pts (Leipzig, 

—, Das biltngue Dekrel von Kanopus in der 
Originalgrdsse mil iibersetzung beider Texle 
(Leipzig, 1886). 

G. Ebkrs, Richard Lepsius, Eng. trans. (New 
York, 1887). 


There are two ways in which Egyptian letters 
have been preserved in the archaeological 
record: sometimes the originals themselves 
have survived (in the form of papyri, ostraca 
and wooden boards), but in many other cases 
such commemorative documents as stelae, 
inscriptions or temple archives incorporate 
transcriptions of letters, whether real or imag¬ 
ined. The earliest known letters belong to the 
latter category, being hieroglyphic copies of 
letters sent by King Djedkara-Isesi 
(2414—2375 bc) to the officials Senedjemib and 
Shepsesra at ABU sir. Only a few other letters 
have survived from the Old Kingdom 
(2686-2181 bc:), such as I Iarkhuf’s record of a 
letter sent to him by the young pepy ii 
(2278-2184 bc). Most of those from the 
Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc:) are made up 
ol an archive of eightv-six letters from Kahun 
(see ei.-laiiln) and a set of eleven items of 
correspondence between Ilekanakhte and his 
family, although an important specialized 
form of letter from this period has survived in 
the form of the so-called \semna dispatches’ 
(12th-Dynasty military communications 
between Thebes and the Nubian fortresses). 

Many items of private and royal correspon¬ 
dence from the New' Kingdom have survived, 
including the simple hieratic notes on ostraca 
sent by the workmen at deir el-medina, 

numerous late Ramesside private letters, and 
the royal diplomatic correspondence from el- 
Amarna (see amarna letters), which was 
written in cuneiform on clay tablets. A large 
number of actual items of correspondence 
written on papyri have survived, such as the 
two letters written by an oil-boiler at el- 
Amarna. One of the most important texts used 
in scribal teaching during this period was the 
satirical Letter of El o ri in which one official 
writes to a colleague, ridiculing his abilities 
and setting tests of his bureaucratic knowl¬ 
edge. This document would have educated 
scribes in the protocol of letter-writing. 

G. Maspero, Du genre epistolaire chez les egyptiens 
de Tepoquepharaonique (Paris, 1872). 

I. G. H. James, The Ilekanakhte papers and other 
early Middle Kingdom documents (New York, 


F.. Wente, Letters from ancient Egypt (Atlanta, 

J. Janssen, Late Ramesside letters und 
communications (hieratic papyri in the British 
Museum) (London, 1991). 

R. B. Parkinson, Voices from ancient Egypt 
(London, 1991), 89-95, 142-5. 

letters to the dead 

The Egyptians believed that the worlds of the 
living and the dead overlapped (see funerary 
beliefs), so that it was possible for the dead to 
continue to take an interest in the affairs of 
their families and acquaintances, and perhaps 
even to wreak vengeance on the living. The 
relatives of the deceased therefore often 
sought to communicate with them by writing- 
letters, invariably requesting help or asking for 
forgiveness. Few er than twenty of these letters 

A letter to the dead written on the interior (rigi nj 
and exterior ( LEFT ) of the ‘Cairo Bowl’, a rough 
red pottery vessel which would probably have been 
filled with food offerings and placed in a tomb. The 
letter is from a woman called Dedi to her dead 
husband, informing him that their servant-girl is ill 
and appealing to him for help in warding off the 
illness. Early 12th Dynasty, c.1900 bc, n. 10 cm. 
(drawn by r. parkixson) 




have survived, but it has been pointed out that 
their extensive geographical distribution prob¬ 
ably indicates a widespread sense of the need 
to communicate with the dead because of the 
magical powers that they were thought to have 
acquired in the afterlife. The letters date from 
the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom 
(2686-1069 bc), but they appear to have been 
replaced in the Late Period (747-332 bc) by 
letters addressed directly to deities. 

Some letters to the dead were simply writ¬ 
ten on papyrus but a number of shrewder indi¬ 
viduals adopted the ploy of inscribing the texts 
on the bowls in which food was offered to the 
deceased in the tomb-chapel. One of the best- 
known such letters was sent from a Ramessidc 
military officer to his dead wife, whom he 
addressed as ‘the excellent spirit, Ankhirv’, 
asking her why she had abandoned him and 
threatening to complain to the gods about the 
unhappiness that her untimely death had 

A. H. Gardixkr and K. Se rin;, Egyptian letters 
to the dead (London 1928). 

W. K. Simpson, ‘The letter to the dead from the 
tomb of Meru (N3737) at Nag 1 ed-Deir’, JEA 52 
(1966), 39-52. 

—, ‘A late Old Kingdom letter to the dead from 
Nag‘ ed-Deir \3500\J£A 56 (1970), 58-64. 

M. Guilmot, ‘Lettre a une epouse defuncte 
(Pap. Leiden i, 371)’, ZAS 99 (1973), 94-103. 

R. Parkinson, J hires from ancient Egypt 
(London, 1991), 142-5. 


The general question of the nature of ancient 
Egyptian libraries is overshadowed by the loss 
of the Great Library at Alexandria, which was 
burned to the ground in the late third century 

AD. The Alexandria library had probably been 
established by ptolemy i Soter (305-285 bc), 
who also founded the Museum (‘shrine of the 
Muses’), initially creating both institutions as 
annexes to his palace. Later in the Ptolemaic 
period, another large library was created, 
probably within the Alexandria serapeum, but 
this too was destroyed in ad 391. Although the 
papyri themselves have not survived, the lega¬ 
cy of the Alexandria libraries can be measured 
also in terms of the scholarship undertaken by 
such writers as Apollonius of Rhodes and 
Aristophanes of Byzantium, who both served 
as directors of the Great Library. 

As far as the libraries of the Pharaonic peri¬ 
od are concerned, there is certainly evidence 
that the Alexandrian institutions stood at the 
end of a long tradition of Egyptian archivism. 
1 he HOUSE of life (per ankh ), where Egyptian 
scribes generally worked and learned their 
trade, has been identified at such cities as 

MEMPHIS and el-amarna, but temple libraries 
and official archives have generally proved 
more difficult to locate. The term per medjal 
(‘house of papyrus rolls’) is used to describe 
the repositories of papyri associated with gov¬ 
ernment buildings and temple complexes. 

A number of temples, such as those at ESN A 
and piiilae, have lists of texts written on cer¬ 
tain walls, but the only definitely identified 
temple library is a niche-like room in the 
southern wall of the outer hypostyle hall of the 
Greco-Roman temple of Horus at edfu (<.80 
bc). An inscription over the entrance to this 
room describes it as the ‘library of Horus’, 
although it is possible that it simply contained 
the few rolls necessary for the daily rituals. 
The location (or indeed the very existence) of 
a library in the ramesseum (r. 1250 bc) at 
Thebes has proved a more contentious ques¬ 
tion, with most modern Egyptologists failing 
to identify any room that equates with the 
‘sacred library’ mentioned by the Greek histo¬ 
rian Diodorus (<.300 bc), although archives of 
the late New Kingdom administration were 
found in the immediate vicinity of the mortu¬ 
ary temple of Rameses m at medinet habu 
(r.1170 bc). The existence of royal libraries is 
indicated by the survival of three faience 
‘bookplates’ bearing the names of amenhotkp 
hi, two of which are also inscribed with the 
names of the literary works written on the 
papyrus rolls to which they were attached. 

A small temple library of the Roman peri¬ 
od, excavated from a room in the Fayum city of 
Tebtunis, contained a number of literary and 
medical works along with the purely religious 
texts that had no doubt dominated most earli¬ 
er temple libraries in the Pharaonic period. A 
list of the texts used by Egyptian priests was 
compiled by Clement, bishop of Alexandria in 
the late second century ad. 

In 1896 James Quibell excavated shaft-tomb 
no. 5 under the Ramesseum, discovering a 
wooden chest containing a set of papyri 
belonging to a lector-priest of the 13th 
Dynasty (r. 1795-1650 bc). This collection of 
texts - the most valuable single find of Middle 
Kingdom papyri - is often referred to as a 
‘library’, but in this context the term refers 
more loosely to an assemblage of documents 
rather than an actual institution or building. 
Nevertheless, the texts provide a good idea of 
the wide variety of texts which might have 
been included in a Middle Kingdom library, 
including literary narratives, military dis¬ 
patches from semna fortress (see letters), an 
ONOMASTICON, medical remedies, magical 
spells, a hymn to Sobek and fragments of a 
dramatic or ritualistic composition. The word 
‘library’ is also used to describe the large col¬ 

lection of papyri owned by a succession of 
scribes at deir ei.-medina, including the 
Chester Beatty papyri. 

J. E. Quibell, The Ramesseum (London, 1898). 

H. R. Hall, ‘An Egyptian bookplate: the ex-libris 
ofAmenophis in andTeie’,J7T.4 12 (1926), 30-3. 
V. Wessetzky, ‘Die agyptische 
Tempelbibliothek’, ZAS 100 (1973), 54-9. 

- -, ‘Die Biicherliste desTempels von Edfu und 
Imhotep’, GM 83 (1984), 85-90. 

G. Bernard, ‘Bibliotheken in alien Agvpten’, 
Bibliothek: Forschung und Praxis 4 (1980), 


J. D. BoURRlAU, Pharaohs and mortals 
(Cambridge, 1988), 79-80, 110. 

L. Canfora, The vanished library, trans. M. Ryle 
(London, 1989), 147-60. 

Libyans (Tjchenu, Tjemehu, Meshwesh, 

In the GUI and Middle Kingdoms, the 
Western Desert, beyond Egypt’s frontiers, w as 
home to the Tjehenu, usually translated as 
‘Libyans’. They were regularly depicted by 
the Egyptians as bearded and light-skinned, 
but they were also occasionally shown as fair¬ 
haired and blue-eyed. They seem to have been 
semi-nomadic pastoralists, and they make 
occasional appearances in Egyptian art from 
early times, although they are often difficult to 
distinguish satisfactorily from the inhabitants 
of the western Delta of Egypt itself. It is 
thought likely, however, that the defeated 
enemy depicted on the late Predynastic 
Battlefield Palette (r.3100 bc) were Libyans. 

King djer (r.3000 bc) of the 1st Dynasty is 
said to have sent an expedition against the 
Libyans, and other campaigns are recorded 
under SNEFERU (2613-2589 bc) of the 4th 
Dynasty and Sahura (2487-2475 bc) of the 5th 
Dynasty. Sahura’s mortuary temple contained 
reliefs showing the dispatching of a Libyan 
chief by the king, a scene repeated in the mor¬ 
tuary temple of Pepy n (2278-2184 bc) of the 
6th Dynasty, and still current in later times. 

Until the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc;), 
action against the Libyans was generally little 
more than punitive raiding. By the time of Setv i 
(1294-1279 bc), a people known as the 
Meshwesh and Libu had settled in the territory 
previously occupied by the Tjehenu and were 
attempting to settle in the Delta. They were 
held at bay by Setv and his son Rameses n 
(1279-1213 bc), but it was left to merenptaii 
(1213-1203 bc) to repulse them. He faced a 
force comprising not only Meshwesh and 
Libu but also Ekwesh, Shekelesh, Teresh, 
Sherden and various Aegean groups. This 
confederation became known as the sea 
peoples. They attacked Egypt in Merenptah’s 




Stele showing a Libu chief offering the hieroglyph 
for 'countryside' to the Egyptian deities Sekhmet 
and Heka, a donation dated in the hieratic text 
below to year 7 of Sheshonq v and specified as ten 
arouras (about seven acres). 22nd Dynasty, 
c .760 nc, limestone, //. 30.5 cm. (ea73%5) 

fifth regnal year, and although the initial 
response was slow the king eventually drove 
them back, supposedly killing six thousand 
and taking nine thousand prisoners. But the 
victory was not final and they returned under 
Rameses in (1184-1153 nc), only to be defeat¬ 
ed in a bloody naval battle. 

Ironically, many of the prisoners taken in 
such actions were forcibly settled in Egypt 
and gradually became a powerful group, at 
first serving the generals ruling Thebes in the 
21st Dynasty (1069—945 bc), who were prob¬ 
ably themselves of Libyan ancestry. 
Ultimately the Libyans came to power in 
their own right, as the 22nd and 23rd 
Dynasties (945-715 bc), ruling from Bubastis 
(telj. basta) and tanis respectively (see 
OSORKON and sheshonq). This so-called 
‘Libyan period’ was beset by rivalries 
between different claimants to the throne, 
and some scholars argue that the existence of 
contemporaneous lines of rulers was charac¬ 
teristic of Libyan society. The aggressive and 
anarchic spirit of these times is perhaps 
reflected in the demotic Cycle of Pedubastis 
(see literature). Despite this political 
uncertainty, particularly during the 23rd 
Dynasty, certain crafts such as bronze work 
flourished, although there seems to have been 
little monumental construction taking place. 
The reunification of Egypt under the 
Kushite 25th Dynasty and Saite 26th 
Dynasty put an end to the period of Libyan 

anarchy, and the motif of the smiting of a 
Libyan chief reappeared in the temple of 
Taharqo (690-664 bc) at kawa. 

O. Bates, The eastern Libyans (London, 1914). 

G. Wainwrigi it, ‘The Meshwesh’, JEA 48 
(1962), 89-99. 

N. K. Sandars, The Sea Peoples: warriors of the 
eastern Mediterranean (London, 1978), 114-19. 

A. Spalinger, ‘Some notes on the Libyans of the 
Old Kingdom and later historical reflexes’, 
JSSEA 9 (1979), 125-60. 

M. A. Lkai iy, ‘The Libyan period in Egypt: an 
essay in interpretation’, Libyan Studies 16 (1985), 

—, Libya and Egypt, c. 1300-750 nc (London, 


By the Pharaonic period the number of lions 
in Egypt had declined compared with prehis¬ 
toric times, when their symbolic and religious 
associations first became established. It is pos¬ 
sible that the connection between the king and 
the lion stemmed from the hunting of these 
animals by the tribal chiefs of the Predynastic 
period. A Greek papyrus mentions lion burials 
at Saqqara in the sacred animal necropolis, 
but these have not yet been located. 

Since lions characteristically lived on the 
desert margins, they came to be considered as 
the guardians of the eastern and western 
horizons, the places of sunrise and sunset. In 
this connection they sometimes replaced the 
eastern and western mountains, symbolic of 
past and future, on either side of the horizon 
hieroglyph ( akhet ). Headrests sometimes 
took the form of this akhet hieroglyph, sup¬ 
ported by two lions; on an example from 

Tutankhamun’s tomb they flank shu, god of 
the air, who supports the head of the king, 
representing the sun. Since the sun itself 
could be represented as a lion, Chapter 62 of 
the book of the dead states: ‘May I bc grant¬ 
ed power over the waters like the limbs of 
Seth, for I am he who crosses the sky, I am 
the Lion of Ra, I am the Slayer who eats the 
foreleg, the leg of beef is extended to me...' 
The lion-god aker guarded the gateway to 
the underworld through which the sun came 
and went each day. Since the sun was born 
each morning and died each evening on the 
horizons, so the lion was also connected with 
death and rebirth and was thus portrayed on 
funerary couches or biers, as well as embalm¬ 
ing tables. 

The beds and chairs of the living were 
sometimes also decorated with lions’ paws or 
heads, perhaps in order that the occupant too 
would rise renewed after sleep or rest. The 
gargoyle rainspouts of temples were often 
made in the form of lions’ heads because it was 
imagined that the lion stood on the temple 
roof absorbing the evil rainstorms of setii and 
then spitting them out down the sides of the 

The Delta site of Leontopolis (tell el- 
muqdam) in the Delta was sacred to the lion 
god Mihos (Greek Mysis), and Shu and 
TEFNUT were also venerated in leonine form at 

Statue of a lion, probably sculpted in the reign of 
Amenhotep ill but bearing a dedicatory text of 
Tutankhamun and an inscription of the Meroitic 
ruler Amanis/o. 18th Dynasty, c .1350 bc, granite, 
from Gebel Barkal, originally from Soleb, 
n. 1.17 m. (ea2) 




the site, since they were sometimes regarded 
as lion cubs created by atum. Most leonine 
deities were female; the most important of 
these was sekhmet, whose cult was eventually 
merged with those of bastet and mut. She 
was regarded as one of the ‘eyes of ra’, and in 
one myth she was almost responsible for the 
annihilation of mankind. 

See also sphinx. 

U. Schweitzer, Lowe undsphinx im a/ten Agypten 
(Gliickstadt, 1948). 

C. de Wit, Le role el le sens du lion dans I’Egypte 
ancienne (Leiden, 1951). 

U. Rossler-Kohler, ‘Ldwe-Kdpfe; 
Lowe-Statucn’, Lexikon der Agyptologie m, ed. 

W. I Ielck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 1080-90. 

R. H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art 
(London, 1992), 68-9. 

Lisht, el- 

Necropolis including the pyramid complexes 
of the two earliest 12th-Dynasty rulers, amen- 
emjiat i and senusret i (c. 1985-1920 bc:), 
located on the west bank of the Nile, about 50 
km south of Cairo. The establishment of a 
royal necropolis at el-Lisht was a direct result 
of the founding of a new royal residence, 
Itjtawv, which appears to have temporarily 
replaced Memphis as the seat of government. 
Itjtawv is often mentioned in texts of the peri¬ 
od and probably lax a short distance to the east 
of el-Lisht. The actual town-site has not yet 
been located, because, like many Egyptian set¬ 
tlements, it has probably been covered by cul¬ 
tivated land. 

The pyramid of Amenemhat i, at the north¬ 
ern end of the site, was originally about 58 m 
high; its core included limestone blocks taken 
from Old Kingdom buildings at saqqara. Its 
mortuary temple was located on its east side. A 
stone causeway leads down from the mortuary 
temple towards the valley temple excavated by 
the Antiquities Inspectorate. The complex of 
Senusret i is similar in basic plan to that of his 
father, comprising a limestone pyramid, origi¬ 
nally 61 m high, surrounded by nine small 
subsidiary pyramids. Just to the north of the 
mortuary temple, ten seated life-size statues of 
the king were found (now in the Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo). 

The pyramids are surrounded by the 
remains of numerous mastaba tombs of 

Statuette of a god or king (possibly Senusret t) 
from the tomb of Imhotep in the south pyramid 
cemetery at el-Lisht. 12th Dynasty , c .1950 bc, 
gessoed and painted wood, n. 58 cm. 


courtiers, including that of Senusret-ankh, 
chief priest of ptaii, located about 200 m to the 
east of the outer enclosure wall of Senusret I. 
Senusret-ankh’s burial chamber contains 
extracts from the pyramid texts executed in 
sunk hieroglyphs. 

W. K. Simpson, ‘The residence of It-towy’, 
JARCE1 (1963), 53-64. 

D. Arnold, The south cemeteries of Lisht /: The 
pyramid ofSenwosret l (New York, 1988). 

—, The south cemeteries of Lisht //: The control 
notes and team marks (New York, 1990). 

—, The south cemeteries of Lisht hi: The pyramid 
complex of Senwosret / (New York, 1992). 


The term ‘Egyptian literature’ is often 
employed to refer to the entire surviving cor¬ 
pus of texts from the Pharaonic period (usual¬ 
ly excluding such practical documents as LET¬ 
TERS or administrative texts), rather than 
being used in its much more restricted sense to 
describe overtly ‘literary’ output. However, 
the individual documents can, like other 
ancient texts, be variously grouped and cate¬ 
gorized on the basis of such diverse criteria as 
physical media (e.g. OSTRACA, papyri or ste¬ 
lae), script (hieroglyphics, hieratic, demot¬ 
ic, Greek or Coptic) and the precise date in the 
history of the language. Although many texts 
have been assigned to particular genres (such 
as WISDOM literature or love poems), they are 
usually best understood in terms of the specif¬ 
ic historical and social context in which they 
were written. Inscriptions listing the contents 
of temple archives and LIBRARIES, as well as a 
few surviving caches of papyri and ostraca 
owned by individuals or institutions, provide a 
good sense of the range of texts that were 
deliberately collected and preserved during 
the Pharaonic period, including technical 
manuals such as medical and mathematical 

Within particular periods of Egyptian his¬ 
tory, there were many different genres of 
texts. The Old Kingdom literary record was 
dominated by religious funerary texts, par¬ 
ticularly the pyramid texts, used in royal 
tombs, and the ‘funerary autobiography’, 
used in private tombs to provide a poetic 
description of the virtues of the deceased. 
There is also some evidence of the compo¬ 
sition of such technical texts as medical trea¬ 
tises, although no actual documents have 
survived. Although a form of verse was used 
for many ‘non-practical’ writings, there w r as 
no literature in the narrowest sense of the 
term. As far as history and historiography is 
concerned, a few' fragments of annals have 
survived (see king lists). 




The Middle Kingdom was particularly 
characterized by the introduction of such fic¬ 
tional literature as the Talc of the Shipwrecked 
Sailor, the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant , the 
Tales of Wonder (Papyrus Westcar) and the Talc 
ofSinuhe , all of which purport to be historical 
accounts, although many of the details of their 
plots indicate that they were fantasies designed 
to entertain and edify rather than to record 
actual events. Many of these fictional narratives 

Wooden hoard, prepared with gesso to provide a 
reasonably good writing surface. It was probably 
suspended from a peg by passing a cord through 
the hole on the right. The text is the only 
surviving version of the Discourse of 
Khakheperraseneb, a literary discourse 
concerning social and personal chaos. Early I8th 
Dynasty, c. 1500 lie, painted wood, provenance 
unknown, tt. 30 cm. ( ea5645a) 

(sometimes described, rather misleadingly and 
anachronistically, as ‘propaganda’) provide a 
good counterpoint to official texts, in that they 
present a much more ambivalent view of 
ancient Egypt, showing the subtle shades of 
distinction between good and evil. In the reli¬ 
gious sphere, the coffin texts, based on the 
Pyramid Texts, began to be used in private 
tombs. Manuscripts have survived more plen¬ 
tifully from the 12th and 13th Dynasties, 
including a much wider range of ty pes of text, 

In the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) many 
of the existing genres were augmented and 
expanded, including such categories as annals, 
offering lists, prayers, hymns, journals, ‘funer¬ 
ary biographies’, funerary texts (e.g. the ROOK 
OF the dead), mathematical and diagrammatic- 
texts, king lists, onomastica, decrees and 
treaties. It is noticeable that literary texts began 
to be composed in Late Egyptian, whereas offi¬ 
cial inscriptions continued to be written in 
Middle Egyptian (sec language). The style of 
New Kingdom narratives, such as the Tale of 
the Predestined Prince and the Talc of the 
Capture of Joppa, is generally considered to be 
more light-hearted and episodic. A new form 
of text is the so-called ‘miscellany’, consisting 
of collections of prayers, hymns or didactic- 

texts, similar to the modern anthology. In addi¬ 
tion, many more ‘personal’ types of document 
began to be composed, including love poems, 
written in hieratic from the Ramesside period 
onwards and usually consisting of dramatic- 
monologues spoken by one or both of the 
lovers. There are also numerous surviving 
records of economic transactions from the 
New Kingdom (e.g. deeds of sale, tax docu¬ 
ments, census lists, see taxation and trade), 
as well as many legal records (e.g. trials and 
wills, see law), magical spells and medical 
remedies (see magic), ‘day-books’ (daily scrib¬ 
al accounts of royal activities) and letters. 

Although the demotic script, introduced in 
the Late Period, was initially used only for 
commercial and administrative texts, it began 
to be used for literary texts from at least the 
early Ptolemaic period onwards. The range of 
demotic literary genres was just as wide as in 
hieroglyphs and hieratic, although no love 
poetry has yet been attested. The two out¬ 
standing examples of demotic narrative fiction 
are the Tales of Seine/Khaemwasel and the 
Cycle of Inaros/ Pedubastis , each consisting of a 
set of stories dealing with the exploits of a 
heroic individual. It has been suggested that 
some of the themes and motifs in these demot¬ 
ic tales w'cre borrowed from, or at least influ¬ 
enced by, Greek works such as the Homeric 
epics or Hellenistic novels and poetry. 

Throughout the Pharaonic period it is often 
difficult to distinguish between fictional narra¬ 
tives and accounts of actual events, and part of 
this problem stems from a general inability to 
recognize the aims and contexts of particular 
texts. Tw o late New Kingdom documents, the 
Report of Wenamun and the Literary Letter of 
Woe , exemplify this problem, in that we cannot 
be sure whether they are official accounts of 
actual individuals or simply stories with com¬ 
paratively accurate historical backgrounds. 
Many such documents are perhaps best 
regarded as semi-fictional works and their 
original function and intended audience may 
never be properly clarified. 

The related question of the extent of liter¬ 
acy is also controversial. Many scholars have 
argued that the percentage of literate members 
of Egyptian society may have been as low r as 
0.4 per cent of the population, although others 
have suggested, on the basis of the copious 
written records from deir EL-MEDLNA (admit¬ 
tedly an atypical community), that the ability 
to read and write was considerably more w ide¬ 
spread. It is noticeable, however, that virtually 
all of the surviving ‘literary’ texts were pri¬ 
marily aimed at (and written by) a small elite 
group. See also education; house of life; 


J. II. BREASTED, Ancient records of Egypt, 4 vols 
(Chicago, 1906). 

G. Posener, Litterature el politique dans l'Egyptc 
de la v//e dynastie (Paris, 1956). 

J. Assmann, ‘Dcr litcrarische Texte im Alten 
Agvpten: Versuch einer Begriffbestimmung’, 

OLZ 69 (1974), 117-26. 

—, ‘Egyptian Literature’, The Anchor Bible 
Dictionary, vol. 2, ed. D. N. Freedman (New 
York, 1992), 378-90. 

M. LiCI i l l iKIM, Ancient Egyptian literature, 3 vols 
(London, 1975-80). 

J. Baines, ‘Literacy and ancient Egyptian 
society’, Man n.s. 18 (1983), 572-99. 

R. B. Parkinson, Voices from ancient Egypt: an 
anthology of Middle Kingdom writings (London, 

livestock see agriculture and animal 


Botanical term used by Egyptologists to refer 
to the water lily ( seshen ), which served as the 
emblem of Upper Egypt, in contrast to the 
Lower Egyptian PAPYRUS plant. The lotus and 
papyrus are exemplified by two types of gran¬ 
ite pillar in the Hall of Records at karnak. 

During the Pharaonic period there were 
essentially two kinds of lotus: the white 
Nymphaea lotus, whose petals arc bluntly 
pointed and which has very large flowers, and 
the blue Nymphaea caerulae, which has point¬ 
ed petals and a slightly smaller flower. In later 
times, however, probably after 525 bc, a third 
type, Nelumbo nucifera, was introduced from 
India. It is the blue lotus which is most com¬ 
monly depicted in art, frequently held to the 
noses of banqueters in tomb scenes, although 
the fragrance may not be very strong. The 
Greek historian Herodotus states that parts of 
the plant were sometimes eaten, and recent 
researchers have suggested that the lotus had 
hallucinogenic properties. 

The lotus w as symbolic of rebirth, since one 
of the creation myths describes how the new ¬ 
born sun rose out of a lotus floating on the 
waters of nun. The buds form under w ater and 
gradually break the surface before opening 
suddenly a few days later. The centre of the 
flowers is yellow, and the blooms generally last 
only a single day, and certainly no more than 
four, before closing and sinking beneath ihe 
water, from which they do not re-emerge. 

Chapter 81 of the book of the dead is con¬ 
cerned with the act of being transformed into 
such a lotus: ‘I am the pure one who issued 
from the fen... Oh Lotus belonging to the 
semblance of Nefertem ...’ The blue lotus was 
also the emblem of the god nefertem, ‘lord of 




perfumes’. A painted wooden sculpture from 
the tomb of Tutankhamun (1336-1327 bc) 
appears to depict the head of the king in the 

The head oj Tutankhamun emerging out of a lotus , 
from his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. 18th 
Dynasty, c .1330 nc, painted mood, //. 30 cm. 
GRIFFITH fNS I lTl i t ;) 

form of Nefertem emerging from a lotus (see 

W. B. Harkr, ‘Pharmacological and biological 
properties of the Egyptian lotus’, JARCE 22 
(1985), 49-54. 

A. Nibbf, ‘The so-called plant of Upper Egypt’, 
DE 19 (1991), 53-68. 

C. Ossian, ‘The most beautiful of flowers: water 
lilies and lotuses in ancient Egypt’, KMT 10(1) 
(1999), 48-59. 

love poems see erotica and sexuality 

1 obelisk 

2 seated colossi of 
Rameses II 

3 pylon of Rameses II 

4 colonnade of 
Amenhotep III 

5 hypostyle hall 

6 first antechamber 
(‘Roman sanctuary’) 

7 second antechamber 

8 ‘birth room' 

9 bark shrines of 
Amenhotep III and 
Alexander the Great 

10 transverse hall 

11 sanctuary of 
Amenhotep III • • 

• # peristyle court of 

• • Amenhotep III 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

2f f 

iioremiikb (1323-1295 bc), is flanked by a 
frieze depicting the celebration of the Festival 
of Opet, which is one of the few surviving 
examples of temple relief from the reign of 
tltankiia.viun (1336-1327 nc). The peristyle 
court, the pylon entrance and two obelisks 
were added by Rameses n. The pylon contained 
talat\t BLOCKS deriving from a now-destroved 
temple to the vita. Only one of the obelisks 
remains in situ; the other, given to the French in 
1819, now stands in the Place de la Concorde in 
Paris. 'The main sanctuary of the temple, w hieh 
had perhaps fallen into disrepair by the Late 
Period (747-332 bc), was reconstructed in the 
late fourth century bc by Alexander the Great, 
who claims to have restored it to its original 
state ‘in the time of Amenhotep’. 

The temple was transformed into a shrine 
of the imperial cult in the Roman period and 
eventually partially overbuilt bv the mosque of 
Abu Haggag. In 1989 a cachette of exquisitely 
carved stone statuary (similar to the karnak 
cachette) was excavated from beneath the floor 
of the court of Amenhotep m. The statues, 
dating mainly to the 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 
bc), had perhaps been buried there by the 
priesthood in order to protect them from the 
pillaging of invaders. 

A. Gay et, Le temple de Louxor (Cairo, 1894). 

C. Kuentz, La face sud du massif est du pylone de 
Ramses tt a Louxor (Cairo, 1971). 

L. Bell, ‘Luxor temple and the cult of the royal 
ka \ JNES 44 (1985), 251-94. 

M. Abdel-Raziq, Das Sanktuar Amenophis tit im 
Luxor-Tcmpel (Tokyo, 1986). 

M. El -Saghir, The discovery of the statuary 
cachette oj Luxor temple (Mainz, 1991). 


Modern name for a Theban religious site ded¬ 
icated to the cult of amin Kamutef, consisting 
of the ipet-resyt (‘temple of the southern pri¬ 
vate quarters’ or ‘southern harimj, which was 
founded in the reign of amenhotep m 
(1390-1352 bc) and augmented by successive 
pharaohs, including r AMESES II (1279-1213 BC) 
and ALEXANDER THE. GREAT (332-323 bc). The 
primary function of the original temple was as 
a setting for the festival of Opet, in which the 
cult statue of the god Amun was carried 

Plan oj the temple oj Amun-Kamutefat Luxor. 

annually along an avenue of sphinxes leading 
from the temple of Amun at karnak to Luxor. 

One of the purposes of the Opet festival was to 
enable the human king to ‘merge’ with his divine 
royal KA in the presence of Amun, and then to 
reappear with his royal and divine essence reju¬ 
venated. The inscriptions in the temple describe 
him as ‘Foremost of all the living kas’ when he 
emerges from the inner sanctuary. 

The processional colonnade at Luxor, con¬ 
structed by Amenhotep in and later usurped by 





Late Predvnastic settlement-site of about 18 
hectares, located 5 km to the south of modern 
Cairo. The settlement, consisting of wattle- 
and-daub oval and crescent-shaped huts, as 
well as large subterranean houses, flourished 
from Naqada i to n; recent excavations suggest 
that the eastern part was occupied earlier than 
the western. At the northern edge of the set¬ 
tlement there were one-metre-high pottery 
storage jars buried up to their necks. There 
were also large numbers of storage pits con¬ 
taining carbonized grain, cornelian beads and 
other valuable items at the southern end of the 
site. The bodies of foetuses and children were 
sometimes buried within the settlement, but 
there were also three cemeteries nearby, that at 
Wadi Digla being the richest. 

There was less evidence of hunting and 
gathering at Maadi than at earlier Lower 
Egyptian Predvnastic sites. As well as agricul¬ 
tural remains, there was also extensive evi¬ 
dence of craft specialization, including the 
processing and trading of copper, the analysis 
of which suggests that it probably derived 
from mines at Timna and the Wadi Arabah, in 
southeastern Sinai. Over eighty per cent of the 
pottery is of a local ware (not known from 
Upper Egyptian sites), but the presence of 
Gerzean pottery and stone artefacts also 
implies that there was increasing contact with 
Upper Egypt. It should be noted that the 
remains of cemeteries at el-Salf and Haragch 
(in Middle Egypt) contain items that are char¬ 
acteristic of the ‘Maadian’ culture, suggesting 
that there may also have been a certain amount 
of cultural expansion southwards in the late 
Predvnastic period. 

The excavation of Maadi has revealed large 
quantities of imported pottery from Palestine 
dating to the Early Bronze Age l phase (includ¬ 
ing thirty-one complete jars); these mainly 
consisted of a globular jar with a broad, flat 
base, high shoulders and long cylindrical neck. 
The imported ceramics also included the so- 
called Ware v pottery, made with unusual 
manufacturing techniques and, according to 
petrographic analysis, from Palestinian clay. 
The combination of Palestinian products 
found at Maadi (including copper pins, chisels, 
fishhooks, basalt vessels, tabular-like flint tools, 
bitumen and cornelian beads) and the presence 
of typical Maadian and Gerzean products at 
such Palestinian sites as Wadi Ghazzeh (Site 1 1) 

and Tel el-Erani suggest that Maadi was func¬ 
tioning as an entrepot in the late Predvnastic 
period. The means by which the trade goods 
were transported has perhaps been confirmed 
by the discovery of bodies of donkeys at 

M. Amer, ‘Annual report of the Maadi 
excavations, 1935’, CdE n (1936), 54-7. 

M. A. Hoffman, Egypt before the pharaohs (New 
York, 1979), 200-14. 

I. Rixkaw and J. Seeher, ‘New light on the 
relation of Maadi to the Upper Egyptian cultural 
sequence’, MDAIK40 (1984), 237-52. 

1. Carkra, M. Frangipare and A. Palmieri, 
‘Predvnastic Egypt: new data from Maadi’, 
African Archaeological Review 5 (1987), 105—14. 

I. Rizkara and J. Seeher, Maadi , 4 vols (Mainz, 

J. Seeher, ‘Maadi—eine pradynastiche 
Kulturgruppc zwischen Oberagypten und 
Palestina’, Praehistorische Zeitschrifl 65 (1990), 


Goddess personifying truth, justice and the 
essential harmony of the universe, who was 
usually portrayed as a seated woman wearing 
an ostrich feather, although she could some¬ 
times be represented simply by the feather 
itself or by the plinth on which she sat (prob¬ 
ably a symbol of the primeval mound), which 
is also sometimes shown beneath the throne of 
OSIRIS in judgement scenes. On a cosmic scale, 
Maat also represented the divine order of the 
universe as originally brought into being at the 
moment of creation. It was the power of Maat 
that was believed to regulate the seasons, the 
movement of the stars and the relations 
between men and gods. The concept was 

Golden chain with a gold foil pendant in the form 
of the goddess Maat, which may have served as a 
judge's insignia. 26th Dynasty or later, after 
C.600BC, II. 2.8 cm. (m48998) 

therefore central both to the Egyptians’ ideas 
about the universe and to their code of ETHICS. 

Although the figure of Maat is widely repre¬ 
sented in the temples of other deities, only a 
few temples dedicated to the goddess herself 
have survived, including a small structure in 
the precinct of Montu at karnak. Her cult is 
attested from the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 lie) 
onwards and by the 18th Dynasty (1550- 
1295 bc) she was being described as the 
‘daughter of Ra’, which was no doubt an 
expression of the fact that the pharaohs w ere 
considered to rule through her authority. The 
image of Maat was the supreme offering given 
by the king to the gods, and many rulers held 
the epithet ‘beloved of Maat’. Even akhenaten 
(1352—1336 bc), whose devotion to the cult of 
the ATEN was later reviled as the antithesis of 
Maat, is described in the Theban tomb of the 
vizier ramose (tt55) as ‘living by Maat’. 

Since the goddess effectively embodied the 
concept of justice, it is not surprising to find 
that the vizier, w ho controlled the LAW courts 
of Egypt, held the title ‘priest of Maat’, and it 
has been suggested that a gold chain incorpo¬ 
rating a figure of the goddess may have served 
as the badge of office of a legal official. Maat 
w as also present at the judgement of the dead, 
when the heart of the deceased was weighed 
against her feather or an image of the goddess, 
and sometimes her image surmounts the bal¬ 
ance itself. The place in which the judgement 
took place was known as the ‘hall of the two 
truths’ ( maaty ). 

R. Anti IKS, Die Maat des Echnalon von Amarna 
(Baltimore, 1952). 

V. A. TOBIN, ‘Ma‘at and Sikn: some comparative 
considerations of Egyptian and Greek thought’, 
JARCE 24 (1987), 113-21. 

J. Assmann, Ma 'at: Gcrechtigkeit und 
Unsterblichkeit ini alien Agypten (Munich, 1990). 
E. T kkter, The presentation of Maat: the 
iconography and theology of an ancient Egyptian 
offering ritual (Chicago, 1990). 

E. Hornung, Idea into image , trans. F.. Bredeck 
(New York, 1992), 131^16. 


Early weapon consisting of a stone head 
attached to a shaft of wood (or sometimes of 
ivory or horn), often tapering towards the end 
that was gripped. Many maceheads have been 
excavated from Predvnastic and Early 
Dynastic cemeteries. The earliest examples, 
dating to the Naqada l period (r.4000- 
3500 bc), were disc-shaped, although many of 
these appear to have been either too light or 
too small to have been actually used in battle. 
The discovery of a clay model macehead at 
Mostagedda suggests that they may often have 




A diorite disc-shaped Predynastic macehead from 
el-Mahasna, dating to the Naqada / period 
(4000—3500 bc), d. 8.8 cm, and a red breccia 
pear-shaped macehead of the Naqada // period 
(c.3500-3100 bc), h. 6.9 cm. (ea49003 and 

been intended as ritualistic or symbolic 

In the Naqada li period (c.3500-3100 bc), 
the discoid form was superseded by the pear- 
shaped head (as well as a narrow, pointed form 
that may have been introduced from western 
Asia). By the late Predynastic period both cer¬ 
emonial palettes and maceheads had become 
part of the regalia surrounding the emerging 
kingship. In Tomb 100 at hikrakonpolis the 
painted decoration includes a scene in which a 
warrior, who may even be an early pharaoh, 
threatens a row of CAPTIVES with a mace. 

The image of the triumphant king bran¬ 
dishing a mace had already become an 
enduring image of kingship by the time the 
NARMER palette (Egyptian Museum, Cairo) 
was carved. This ceremonial mudstone 
palette, showing King Narmcr (r.3100 bc) 
wearing the white crown and preparing to 
strike a foreigner with his mace, was found in 
the ‘Main Deposit’ (probably incorporating a 
cache of votive items) in the Old Kingdom 
temple at Hicrakonpolis. The same deposit 
included two limestone maceheads carved 
with elaborate reliefs, one belonging to King 
Scorpion and the other to Narmer (Oxford, 
Ashmolean Museum), showing that the 
macehead itself had become a vehicle for 
roval propaganda. The archetypal scene of 
the mace-wielding pharaoh was of such 
iconographic importance that it continued to 
be depicted on temple walls until the Roman 

The mace was associated with the healthy 
eye of the god horus, whose epithets includ¬ 
ed the phrase ‘lord of the mace, smiting down 
his foes’, and its importance in terms of the 
kingship is re-emphasized by the presence of 
two gilt wooden model maces among the 
funerary equipment of tutankhamln 
(1336-1327 bc). 

W. Wolf, Die Bewajfnung des altdgyptischen 
Heeres (Leipzig, 1926). 

B. Adams, Ancient Hierakonpolis (Warminster, 
1974), 5-13. 

W. Decker, l Keulc, Keulenkopf’, Lexikonder 
Agyptologie in, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1980), 414-15. 


The Egyptians used the term heka to refer to 
magical power, in the sense of a divine force 
(sometimes personified as the god Heka) that 
could be invoked both by deities and humans 
to solve problems or crises. In modern times a 
clear distinction is usually made between the 
use of prayers, MEDICINE or ‘magic’, but in 
ancient Egypt (and many other cultures) these 
three categories were regarded as overlapping 
and complementary. Thus, a single problem, 
whether a disease or a hated rival, might be 
solved by a combination of magical rituals or 

treatments ( seshaw ), medicinal prescriptions 
(pekhret ) and religious texts (rw). 

A somewhat artificial distinction is usually 
made between the religious texts in tomhs and 
temples and the ‘magical texts’ or ‘spells’ that 
were intended to solve the everyday problems 
of individuals. These texts range from the 
Book of Gates in New Kingdom royal tombs to 
curses inscribed on ostraca, or even spells to 
cure nasal catarrh, but all of them would have 
been regarded by the Egyptians as roughly 
comparable methods of gaining divine assis¬ 
tance. All employed heka, the primeval potency 
that empowered the creator-god at the begin¬ 
ning of time. Whereas magic, in the modern 
sense of the word, has become relatively 
peripheral to the established religions, in 
ancient Egypt it lay at the very heart of reli¬ 
gious ritual and liturgy. Magic was the means 
by which the restoration of all forms of order 
and harmony could be ensured. The royal 
uraeus (see COBRA and wadjyt), perhaps the 
most vivid symbol of the pharaoh’s power, was 
sometimes described as meret hekaw : ‘great of 

Probably the best-known literary descrip¬ 
tion of the practice of magic in Egypt is a fic¬ 
tional narrative composed in the Middle 
Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) and preserved on 
the 18th-Dynasty Papyrus Westcar. This text 
describes various marvels performed by the 
magicians Djadjaemankh and Djedi at the 
courts of SNEFERL and kiiufu in the 4th 
Dynasty (2613-2494 bc). 

As in many other cultures the techniques 
employed by Egyptian magicians were based 
largely on the concept of imitation - the belief 
that the replication of a name, image or myth¬ 
ical event could produce an effect in the real 
world. The imitation of names meant that ver¬ 
bal trickery, such as puns, metaphors and 
acrostics, were regarded as powerful forms of 
magic rather than simply literary skills. In the 

Curved 'magic' wand, incised with figures of deities 
and mythical beasts, probably intended to protect 
the owner from harm. Middle Kingdom, c. 1800 bc, 
hippopotamus ivory, /.. 36 cm. (ti ll8175) 


magic; bricks 


case of the execration texts, the act of 
smashing ostraca or figurines bearing the 
names of enemies was considered to be an 
effective way of thwarting them. Similarly, the 
creation of statuettes or figurines of gods or 
enemies, which could then be either propitiat¬ 
ed or mutilated, was regarded as an effective 
way of gaining control over evil forces. In a 
sophisticated combination of verbal, visual 
and physical imitation, it was believed that 
water poured over cipfii of horus (stelae 
depicting Horus the child defeating snakes, 
scorpions and other dangers) would confer 
healing on those who drank it. 

The shaft tomb of a priest of the late 
Middle Kingdom (c*. 1700 bc) excavated from 
beneath the Ramesseum in western Thebes 
contained a mixture of ‘religious' and ‘magi¬ 
cal’ artefacts, including a statuette of a woman 
wearing a lion mask and holding two snake- 
wands, an ivory clapper, a section of a magic- 
rod, a female fertility figurine, a bronze cobra- 
wand, and a box of papyri inscribed with a 
wide range of religious, literary and magical 
texts (see libraries). This single collection of 
equipment clearly demonstrates the vast spec¬ 
trum of strategies which would have been 
involved in Egyptian magic, enabling an indi¬ 
vidual priest to draw on the power of the gods 
with a wide variety of means and for a number 
of different purposes. 

M. Lici ITHEIM, Ancient Egyptian literature 
(Berkeley, 1973), 215-22.1 Papyrus Wcstcar] 

J. E Borghouts, Ancient Egyptian magical texts 
(Leiden, 1978). 

M. R \ \vi:\, ‘Wax in Egyptian magic and 
symbolism', Oudheidkundige Mcitedelingen nil het 
Rijksihuseiim van Oudheden te Leiden 64 (1983), 

C. J \CQ, Egyptian magic , trans. J. M. Davis 
(Warminster, 1985). 

A. M. Blackman, The story of King Kheops and 
the magicians, transcribed from Papyrus llestcar 
(Berlin Papyrus 3033), ed. W. V. Davies 
(Reading, 1988). 

J. E Borgi iouts, ‘Magical practices among the 
villagers’. Pharaoh's workers: the villagers ofDeir 
el-Medina , ed. L. II. Lcsko (Ithaca and London, 
1994), 119-30. 

R. K. Reiner, The mechanics of ancient Egyptian 
magical practice (Chicago, 1993). 

G. Ping I, Magic in ancient Egypt (London, 


magic bricks 

Set of four mud bricks that were often placed 
on the four sides of the tomb during the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) in order to protect 
the deceased from evil. Surviving examples 
date from at least as early as the reign of 

Magic brick with shabti-//K* human figure, from 
the north wall of the burial chamber in the tomb of 
Tutankhamun. 13th Dynasty, c. 1330 tic, 
ft. 15.1 CHI. ( CAIRO , vo. 259, REPRODUCED 

Thutmose in (1479-1425 bc) until the time of 
Rameses n (1279-1213 bc). A socket in each 
brick supported an amulet, the form of which 
depended on the cardinal point where the 
brick was placed: thus the brick beside the 
western wall included a faience djed pillar, 
that beside the eastern wall incorporated an 
unfired clay anubis, and those beside the 
southern and northern walls contained a reed 
with a w ick resembling a torch and a mummi- 
form sitAUTl-like figure respectively. The 
amulets themselves usually faced towards the 
opposite wall. The bricks were inscribed w ith 
sections of the hieratic text of Chapter 151 of 
the book or the dead, describing the role they 
played in protecting the deceased from the 
enemies of osires. 

E. Thomas, ‘The four niches and amuletic 
figures in Theban royal tombs', JARCE 3 (1964), 

S. Quirk e and J. Spencer, The British Museum 
book of ancient Egypt (London, 1992), 94-5. 

Maiherpri (Mahirpra) (c. 1450 bc) 

Military official of the early 18th Dynasty, 
whose small intact tomb (kv 36) was found in 
w estern Thebes by Victor Loret in 1899. It was 
the first unplundered tomb to be discovered in 
the valley OF the KINGS in modern times, 
although the poor records of its excavation 
mean that little is known about the original 

disposition of the items within the burial 
chamber, and there is not even a definitive list 
of the objects themselves. 

Because of the fine quality of the burial and 
its location among the royal tombs of the New 
Kingdom, it has been suggested that 
Maiherpri, who held the titles ‘fan bearer on 
the right hand of the king' and ‘child of the 
[royal] nursery’, must have enjoyed consider¬ 
able royal favour, perhaps being a foster- 
brother or son of one of the early New 
Kingdom rulers, while his physical features 
(dark complexion and curly hair) indicate that 
he w as of Nubian descent. There are few clues 
as to the ruler under whom he served; possible 
candidates are Hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc), 
whose name was inscribed on a piece of linen 
in the tomb, Thutmose in (1479-1425 bc), 
Amcnhotep n (1427-1400 bc) and Thutmose i\ 
(1400-1390 bc). 

The funerary equipment included a large 
black resin-covered wooden sarcophagus con¬ 
taining tw o smaller coffins, both of w hich were 
empty. The body itself lay in a second set of 
coffins to one side of the sarcophagus. The 
funerary equipment included an impressive 
book OF the DEAD papyrus, as well as leather 
quivers full of arrow s (some tipped with flint) 
which reinforce his identification as a stan¬ 
dard-bearer in the Egyptian army (perhaps 
even a royal bodyguard). Other leather items 
preserved among his funerary equipment were 
two dog collars, one of w hich was inscribed 
with the animal’s name (Tantanuet), as well as 
a box containing leather loincloths, which 
How ard Carter later discovered buried under a 
rock outside the tomb. 

II. Carter, ‘Report on general work done in the 
southern inspectorate i: Biban el-Molouk’, 

ASAE 4 (1903), 46. 

M. Sai.eii and H. Sourouzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo: official catalogue (Mainz, 1987), 
no. 142. 

C. N. Rj.ea es. The Valley of the Kings (London, 
1990), 140-7. 


Settlement and palace site at the southern end 
of western Thebes, opposite modern Luxor, 
dating to the early fourteenth century bc. 
Essentially the remains of a community that 
grew up around the Theban residence of 
Amcnhotep ill (1390-1352 bc), it was excavat¬ 
ed between 1888 and 1918, but only a small 
part of this work has been published, and the 
more recent re-examination of the site by 
David O’Connor and Barry Kemp in the carh 
1970s has only partially remedied this situa¬ 
tion. The excavated area of the site comprises 
several large official buildings (including four 




probable palaces), as well as kitchens, store¬ 
rooms, residential areas and a temple dedicat¬ 
ed to the god Amun. 

To the east of Malkata arc the remains of a 
large artificial lake (the Birket Habu) evidently 
created at the same time as Amenhotep in’s 
palaces, probably in connection with his SED 
festival. The southern end of the site (Kom 
el-Samak) was surveyed and excavated during 
the 1970s and 1980s b\ a Japanese expedition 
from Waseda University, revealing an unusual 
ceremonial painted platform-kiosk approached 
by a stair and ramp. 

R. DE P. Tytl s, 1 preliminary report on the pre- 
excavation of the palace of Amenhotep tit (New 
York, 1903). 

W. Hayes, ‘Inscriptions from the palace of 
Amenhotep hi \JNES 10 (1951), 35-40. 

B. J. Kemp and D. O’Connor, ‘An ancient Nile 
harbour: University Museum excavations at the 
Birket Habu’, International Journal of Nautical 
Archaeology and Underwater Exploration 3/1 
(1974), 101-36. 

Y. Watan Mil', and K. Skm, The architecture of 
Kom El Samak at Malkata South: a study of 
architectural restoration (Tokyo, 1986). 

mammisi (Coptic: ‘birth-place’, ‘birth-house’) 
Artificial Coptic term invented by the nine¬ 
teenth-century Egyptologist Jean-Franyois 
Champollion to describe a particular type of 

The mammisi of Horns at Edfu was constructed 
by Ptolemy i // and xtrt and was the setting for 
annual 'mystery plays' concerning the birth of the 
god. (p. /: xicuolsox) 

building attached to certain temples, such as 
f.dfu, i JEN PER A and I’MU.ak, from the I .ate 
Period to the Roman period (747 bc—AD 395), 
often placed at right angles to the main temple 
axis. The Ptolemaic mammisi usually consisted 
of a small temple, surrounded by a colonnade 
with intercolumnar screen walls, in which the 
rituals of the marriage of the goddess (Isis or 
Hathor) and the birth of the child-god were 
celebrated. There appear to have been earlier 
counterparts of the mammisi in the form of 
18th-Dynasty reliefs describing the divine 
birth of Hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc.) at 
kt.-bahri and that of Amenhotep in (1390— 
1352 bc) at luxor. 

The temple complex at Dendera includes 
two mammisis in front of the main temple. One 
of these dates to the Roman period, while the 
other is a much earlier construction of 
Nectanebo i (380-362 bc) in which ‘mystery 
plays’ concerning the births of both the god 
Ihy (see hathor) and the pharaoh are said to 
have been enacted, comprising thirteen acts 
and two intervals. It is highly likely that simi¬ 
lar dramas and rituals took place in other 
birth-houses, with the intention of ensuring 
agricultural success and the continuation of 
the royal line. 

E. Cn assin \t, Le mammisi d'Edfou, 2 vols (Cairo, 

—, Les mammisi des temples egypliens (Paris, 

1958) . 

F. Du. . mas, Les mammisis de Dendara (Cairo, 

1959) . 

J. Junker and E. Winter, Das Geburtshaus des 
Tempelsder his in Philo (Vienna, 1965). 

Manetho (c .305—285 bc) 

Egyptian priest and historian. Little is known 
of his life, and it is disputed whether he was 
born at mkndks or Heliopolis. It is clear, how¬ 
ever, that he was Egyptian and could read 
Egyptian scripts, although he wrote in Greek. 
His major work, a history of Egypt called the 
Aegyptiaca , was probably prepared during his 
time at the temple of Sebennytos, which is 
near the modern town of Samannud in the 
Delta. It has been tentatively suggested that 
his priestly duties included a role in the estab¬ 
lishment of the cult of sera pis under Ptolemy 
I Soter (305—285 lie). As a priest he would have 
had access to the archives of Egypt’s temples 
(see libraries), and with his ability to read 
hieroglyphs he was able to produce a valuable 
study, which he dedicated to Ptolemy n 
(285-246 bc). 

Unfortunately his history has not survived 
intact, but is preserved in a series of some¬ 
times contradictory fragments in the works of 
other writers, notably the Jewish historian 
Josephus (first century ad), and the Christian 
writers Julius Alricanus (c. AD 220), Eusebius 
(c. AD 320) and George called Syncellus (c. AD 
800). Nevertheless, his division of the earthly 
rulers into thirty dynasties (with the later 
addition of a thirty-first) has been a major 
influence on modern perceptions of the out¬ 
line of Egyptian history, and the system was 
used by Jean-l'rancois Champollion in order¬ 
ing the sequence of cartouches he discovered 
from his decipherment of the hieroglyphs. 

Manetho is credited with a further seven 
works: The Sacred Book , An Epitome of 
Physical Doctrines , On Festivals , On Ancient 
Ritual and Religion , On the Making of Kyphi 
(the latter being a type of incense), Criticisms 
of Herodotus and The Book of So this. The last 
of these was certainly not the work of 
Manetho, and it is equally possible that some 
of the other works were never even written. 

\1 anetiio, Aegyptiaca , ed. and trans. W. G. 
Wadell, Loeb Classical Library (London, 1940). 
A. Li .ovd, ‘Manetho and the Thirty-First 
Dynasty’, Pyramid studies and other essays 
presented to I. E. S. Edwards, ed. J. Baines et al. 
(London, 1988), 154-60. 

maps and plans 

The question of ancient Egyptian use of maps, 
plans and diagrams is complicated by the dif¬ 
ferences between modem conceptions of art 
and representation and those that prevailed in 
the Pharaonic period. There are therefore 
Egyptian depictions of such phenomena as 
landscapes and architectural features that 
might be described - in modern terms — as 
‘diagrammatic’, in the sense that they combine 




several different perspectives. For instance, in 
Rameses n’s depictions of the Battle of qadesi i 
( r. 1274 bc), there is a bird’s-eye view of the 
immediate context of Qadesh (i.e. a tract of 
land bounded by two branches of the River 
Orontes), but the city itself is depicted as if 
seen from the side. 

There are also, however, a small number of 
surviving drawings on ostraca and papyri that 
differ from mainstream Egyptian works of art 
in that they appear to have had various practi¬ 
cal uses as diagrams, whether as the working 
drawings of architects or, on a more metaphys¬ 
ical level, as a means of navigating through the 
afterlife. The earliest surviving Egyptian maps 
arc of the latter type, consisting of schematic 
depictions of the route to the netherworld (the 
Book of Ttpo Ways ) painted on coffins of the 
Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc). 

The earliest surviving Egyptian map of an 
actual geographical region is the so-called 
Turin Mining Papyrus, an annotated pictori¬ 
al record of an expedition to the bekhen- 
stone (greywacke or siltstonc) quarries of 
Wadi Hammamat in the Eastern Desert. The 
Turin Mining Papyrus, now in the Museo 
Egizio, Turin, dates to the mid-twelfth cen¬ 
tury BC; it was evidently a document either 
created to assist in a bekhen- stone quarrying 
expedition in the reign of Rameses iv 
(1153-1147 bc), or, at the very least, com¬ 
posed in order to commemorate the details of 
the event. The map identifies the essential 
elements of a group of gold mines (at a site 
now known as Bir Umm Fawakhir) as well as 
the principal quarries, which are located fur¬ 
ther to the east. 

The textual and pictorial details of the 
papyrus have recently been re-analvsed, and 
its meaning and archaeological context re¬ 
assessed. It incorporates colour-coded geolog¬ 
ical zones, the locations of the mines and 
quarries, a miners’ settlement, a cistern (or 
‘water-reservoir’), three ancient roads, two 
locations associated with the processing and 
transportation of minerals, a shrine dedicated 
to ‘Amun of the pure mountain’ and a com¬ 
memorative stele from the time of sety r 
(1294-1279 bc). 

An ostracon of the Ramesside period in the 
British Museum bears a rough architectural 
plan annotated with measurements and 
accompanied by a hieratic text describing the 
orientation of the drawing in relation to an 
actual building, which remains unidentified. 
Two other architectural drawings have been 
recognized as plans of specific royal tombs in 
the valley of the kings. A papyrus in Turin 
bears part of a detailed ink plan of the tomb of 
Rameses iv, while a less detailed plan on an 

ostracon in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo has 
been identified as the tomb of Rameses tx 
(1126-1108 bc). 

H. Carter and A. H. Gardiner, ‘The tomb of 
Ramesses iv and the Turin plan of a royal tomb’, 
J£4 4(1917), 130-58. 

E. Horni ng, ‘Zum Turiner Grabplan’, Pyramid 
studies and other essays presented to 1. E. S. 

Edwards , ed. J. Baines et al. (London, 1988), 

R. B. Parkinson, Voices from ancient Egypt 
(London, 1991), 134-6. [plan of the 

J. A. Harrell and Y. M. Brown, ‘The oldest 
surviving topographical map from ancient 
Egypt: Turin Papyri 1879, 1899 and 1969’, 
JARCE 29 (1992), 81-105. 

Mariette, Auguste (1821-81) 

French Egyptologist who excavated many of 
the major Egyptian sites and monuments and 
founded the Egyptian Antiquities Service. He 
was born and educated in Boulogne-sur-Mer 
and in 1839-40 he lived in England, teaching 
French and drawing in Stratford and working 
unsuccessfully as a designer in Coventry. In 
1841 he returned to Boulogne to complete his 
education, and the following year he devel¬ 
oped an enthusiasm for Egyptology when he 
examined the papers bequeathed to his family 
by his cousin Nestor L’Hote, who produced 
huge numbers of drawings as a draughtsman 
on CIIAMPOLLIOn’s expedition to Egypt in 

Between 1842 and 1849 Mariette taught 
himself hieroglyphics (using Champollion’s 
grammar and dictionary) and studied 
Coptic, eventually obtaining a post in the 
Louvre, where he made an inventory of all of 
the Egyptian inscriptions in the collection. 
In 1850 he was sent to Egypt to acquire 
papyri for the Louvre, but instead embarked 
on the excavation of the Saqqara serapeum; 
the ensuing four years were probably the 
most successful of his archaeological career. 
In 1855 he became Assistant Conservator at 
the Louvre and two years later he returned to 
Egypt. With the financial support of Said 
Pasha, the viceroy of Egypt, he undertook 
several simultaneous excavations, including 
work at Giza, Thebes, Abvdos and 
Elephantine. In June 1858 he was appointed 
as the first Director of the newly created 
Egyptian Antiquities Service, which enabled 
him to gather together sufficient antiquities 
to establish a national museum at Bulaq, near 
Cairo. His subsequent excavations at thirty- 
five different sites, regularly using large 
numbers of relatively unsupervised workers, 
were criticized by later, more scientific, exca¬ 

vators such as Flinders PETRIE and George 
REISNER, but he is nevertheless deservedly 
honoured by modern archaeologists as the 
creator of the Egyptian Antiquities Service 
and the Egyptian Museum, without which 
the plundering of Egypt would have carried 
on at a far greater pace in the late nineteenth 
century. He died at Bulaq in 1881 and was 
buried in a sarcophagus which was later 
moved to the forecourt of the modern 
Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 

A. Mariette, Le Serapeum de Memphis (Paris, 

—, Notice des principaiLx monuments exposes dans 
les galeries provisoires du Musee... a Boulak (Cairo, 

—, The monuments of Upper Egypt (London, 

E. Mariette, Mariette Pacha (Paris, 1904). 

G. Daniel, A hundred years ofarchaeology, 1st 
ed. (London, 1950), 160-4. 


Although many current descriptions of 
ancient Egypt tend to assume that marriage in 
the Pharaonic period was similar to die mod¬ 
ern institution, there is surprisingly little evi¬ 
dence either for marriage ceremonies or for 
the concept of the married couple (as opposed 
to a man and woman simply living together). 

The word hemet , conventionally translated 
as ‘wife’, is regularly used to identify a man’s 
female partner, but it is not clear what the 
social or legal implications of the term were. 
In addition, it has been pointed out that die 
equivalent male term hi (‘husband’) is only 
rarely encountered. This is one of the most 
obvious results of the fact that most of the sur¬ 
viving sculptures and texts relate to male 
funerary cults; therefore women are primarily 
identified in terms of their relationships with 
men (rather than the men being defined by 
their links with women). 

The work hebswt seems to have been used 
to refer to another category of female partner, 
which is occasionally translated as ‘concu¬ 
bine’, but the situation is confused by the 
existence of some texts of the New Kingdom 
(1550-1069 bc:) that describe a woman as 
both hemet and hebswt at the same time. 
Ilebswt is therefore sometimes taken to refer 
to a man’s second or third wife, if he remar¬ 
ried after the death or divorce of an earlier 

Very few documents describing the act of 
marriage have survived from the Pharaonic 
period, although a number of legal texts, often 
described as ‘marriage contracts’, have sur¬ 
vived from the period spanning the Late and 
Ptolemaic periods (747—30 bc:). These texts. 


MASKHUTA, tell el- 


frequently incorporating the phrase shep en 
sehemet (‘price for [marrying] a woman’), 
appear to lay down the property rights of each 
of the partners in a marriage, rather than 
specifically documenting or endorsing the act 
of marriage itself. 

The actual ceremony of marriage is poorly 
documented, but there are more frequent 
records of divorces. Both remarriage and mul¬ 
tiple marriages were possible, but it is not 
clear how common it was for men to take 
more than one wife. It has been pointed out 
that the numbers of rooms in the New 
Kingdom tomb-workers’ community of deir 
EL-MEDINA appear to conform with monoga¬ 
mous rather than polygamous arrangements. 
However, from at least as early as the 13th 
Dynasty (c. 1795-1650 bc), polygamy was 
certainly practised by the Egyptian kings, 
with one consort usually being cited as the 
‘great royal wife’ (kernel nesiv werel, see 
queens). The custom of brother-sister and 
father-daughter marriage appears to have 
been confined to the royal family, perhaps 
partly because the deliberate practice of 
incest, commonly occurring in the myths of 
Egyptian deities, was regarded as a royal pre¬ 
rogative, effectively setting the king apart 
from his subjects. 

In the New Kingdom, many pharaohs also 
took foreign wives in so-called ‘diplomatic 
marriages’, which were used either as a means 
of consolidating alliances with the kingdoms of 
the ancient Near East or as an indication of the 
complete subjugation of a foreign prince, who 
would have been obliged to send his daughter 
to the king both as an act of surrender and as a 
means of ensuring his subsequent loyalty. 

P. Pkstman, Marriage and matrimonial property in 
ancient Egypt (Leiden, 1961). 

W. K. Simpson, ‘Polygamy in Egypt in the 
Middle Kingdom’, JEA 60 (1974), 100-5. 

A. R. Schulman, ‘Diplomatic marriage in the 
Egyptian New Kingdom \JNES 38 (1979), 

S., ‘Quelques aspects du mariage dans 
l’Egypte ancienne’, JEA 67 (1981), 116-35. 

E. Strouiial, Life in ancient Egypt (Cambridge, 

1992) , 51-8. 

G. Robins, Women in ancient Egypt (London, 

1993) , 56-74. 

Maskhuta, Tell el- (anc. Per-Temu, Tjeku) 
Town-site and capital of the eighth nome of 
Lower Egypt during the Late Period 
(747-332 bc), located at the eastern edge of the 
Delta, 15 km west of modern Ismailiva and the 
Suez Canal. The site was first excavated by 
Edouard Naville in 1883 on behalf of the 
newly established Egypt Exploration Fund. 

Plan of Tell el-Maskhuta. 

Black granite votive falcon ofRameses //. 19th 
Dynasty, 1279-1213 bc, from Tell el-Maskhuta, 
h 95 cm. (r.. il006) 

On the basis of its ancient name, Per-Temu, 
the site was identified with the Biblical city of 
Pi thorn, but more recent excavations by a team 
from the University of Toronto have dis¬ 
proved this theory, demonstrating that there 
was a HYKSOS level below the remains of the 
city founded by Nekau n (610—595 bc:) which 
was still flourishing in the Roman period 
(30 bc-ad 395). The fluctuating importance of 
the site appears to have been closely linked to 
the fortunes of the Wadi Tumilat, through 
which an ancient canal connected the apex of 
the Delta with the Red Sea. 

H. E. Naville, The store-city of Pit horn and the 
route of the Exodus (London, 1885). 

J. S. Hull a day, Jr, Cities of the Delta nr. Tell el- 
Maskhuta (Malibu, 1982). 


The question of the extent to which masks 
were used in Egyptian religious and funerary 
rituals has not yet been satisfactorily resolved. 
Paintings, reliefs and statuary throughout the 
Pharaonic period regularly include depictions 
of human figures with the heads of various 
creatures, from jackals to falcons. It is uncer¬ 
tain, however, whether these depictions are 
always intended to represent physical manifes¬ 
tations of the gods themselves, or whether, as 
seems possible in some instances, the figures 
are masked priests representing the deity in 
question. Some of the ceremonial palettes of 
the late Predvnastic and Early Dynastic periods 
(r.3300-2900 bc) are carved with depictions of 
bird- and animal-headed humans, sometimes 
described as masked figures, although they 
are not necessarily any more likely to be 
masked than equivalent depictions of the 
Pharaonic period. 

Studies concerning priests’ use of masks are 
hampered by the fact that only two examples 
have survived. In the Romer-Pelizaeus 
Museum at Hildesheim there is a painted 
ceramic bust of Anubis of unknown prov¬ 
enance, nearly 50 cm high and dated to the 
fifth or sixth century BC. A pair of holes were 
bored through the pottery below the snout, 
presumably in order to allow the priest to see 
out; the ‘mask’ also had notches on either side 
of the base to fit over the wearer’s shoulders. A 
relief in the Ptolemaic temple of Hath or at 
Dendera shows a priest apparently wearing a 
similar jackal-head mask, with his own head 
visible inside the outline of the jackal’s head. 

At one of the houses in the town of Kahun 
(see ei.-lahun), Flinders Petrie excavated a 
cartonnage lion’s head mask provided with 
eye-holes, which would probably have allowed 
the wearer to assume the identity of the magi¬ 
cal demon Aha. This mask, dating to the 




Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 lie), is now in 
the collection of the Manchester Museum. 
The unusual set of late Middle Kingdom 
objects found in shaft-tomb 5 under the 
Ramesseum included a wooden figurine repre¬ 
senting either a lion-headed goddess or a 
woman wearing a similar kind of mask, which 
was probably connected in some way with the 
performance of magic:. It is possible that many 
other masks were made of organic materials 
such as cartonnage, linen or leather, which, 
even in Egypt’s climate, would not necessarily 
have survived in the archaeological record. 

Profile view of the funerary mask of 
Tutankhamun, from his tomb in the l alley of the 
K ings. The characteristic bean! has been removed 
in this photograph. 18th Dynasty , c. 1330 lie, gold, 
lapis lazuli, cornelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise 
and coloured glass, it. 54 cm. (c.itRO jt:60672, 


The use of masks in funerary contexts is 
much better documented, ranging from the 
famous golden masks of tutankhamun 
(1336-1327 bc) and psuse.wes i (1039-991 bc.) 
to the humbler painted cartonnage masks that 
were introduced in the First Intermediate 
Period (2181-2055 bc) to assist in the identifi¬ 
cation of the linen-wrapped mummy. The car¬ 
tonnage mummy mask was used in the First 
Intermediate Period, the Middle Kingdom, 
the 18th and 26th Dynasties and the Greco- 
Roman period (32 bc-ad 395), when hollow 

painted plaster heads and the so-called ‘Fayum 
portraits’ (depicting the face of the deceased 
in encaustic or tempera on a wooden board) 
began to be used alongside the traditional car¬ 
tonnage masks. 

The forerunners of mummy-masks date to 
the 4th to 6th Dynasties (2613-2181 bc), tak¬ 
ing the form of thin coatings of plaster mould¬ 
ed either directly over the face or on top of the 
linen wrappings, perhaps fulfilling a similar 
purpose to the 4th-Dynasty reserve heads. A 
plaster mould, apparently taken directly from 
the face of a corpse, was excavated from the 
6th-Dynastv mortuary temple of teti 
(2345-2323 bc), but this is thought to be of 
Greco-Roman date. The superficially similar 
plaster ‘masks’ that were excavated in the 
house of the sculptor Thutmose at el-amarna 
were probably not death-masks at all but 
copies of sculptures, intended to aid the sculp¬ 
tors in making accurate representations of the 
el-Amarna elite. 

W. M. F. Petrie, Kahun, Gurob and Haivara 
(London, 1890), 30, pi. vin.27. 

J. E. Quibell, Excavations at Saqqara 
(1907—1908) (Cairo, 1909), 112, pi. lx. 

C. L. Bleeker, ‘Die Maske: Verhiillung und 
Offenbarung’, The sacred bridge (Leiden, 1963), 

C. A. Andrews, Egyptian mummies (London, 
1984), 27-30. 

A. WoEINSKi, ‘Ancient Egyptian ceremonial 
masks’, DE 6 (1986), 47-53. 

P. Pam.mincer, ‘Anubis-Maske’, Agyptcns 
Aufsticgzur Weltmachl , exh. cat. Hildesheim, ed. 
A. Eggebrecht (Mainz, 1978), 312-13. 

W. Davis, Masking the blow: the scene of 
representation in late prehistoric Egyptian art 
(Berkeley, 1992), 38-40, 72-82. 

D. Sw eeney, ‘Egyptian masks in motion’, GM 
135(1993), 101—f. 

J. II. Taylor, ‘Masks in ancient Egypt: the 
image of divinity’. Masks: the art of expression, 
ed. J. Mack (London, 1994), 168-89. 

Maspero, Gaston (1846-1916) 

French Egyptologist who succeeded Auguste 
M\riettk as Director of the Egyptian Museum 
at Bulaq and edited the first fifty volumes of 
the immense catalogue of the collection there. 
He was born in Paris and educated at the Lycee 
Louis le Grand and the Ecole Normalc, even¬ 
tually becoming Professor of Egyptology at the 
Ecole des Hautes Etudes in 1869, at the age of 
only twenty-three, having studied with both 
Mariette and Olivier de Rouge. In 1880 he 
made his first trip to Egypt at the head of a 
French archaeological mission that was eventu¬ 
ally to become the Institut Frangais 
d’Archeologie Orientale. From 1881 onwards, 

as Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service 
and the Bulaq Museum, he excavated at 
numerous sites from Saqqara to the Valley of 
the Kings. His distinguished career, which 
included the first publication of the pyramid 
texts and the discovery of the cache of royal 
mummies at deir ei.-bahri, was eventually 
brought to an end through illness, which 
forced him to return to France in 1914. He 
died two years later, just before he was about to 
address a meeting of the Academy in Paris. 

G. MaspeRO, Les momies royales de Deir el-Bahari 
(Cairo, 1889). 

—, Etudes de mythologie el d'archeologie 
egyplienne, 8 vols (Paris, 1893-1916). 

—, Les inscriptions des py ram ides de Saqqara It 
(Paris, 1894). 

—, Histoire ancicnne des peoples de /'Orient, 3 vols 
(Paris, 1895-9). 

G. Maspero and A. Barsanti, Fouilles autour de 
la pyramide d'Ounas (Cairo, 1900) 

G. Maspero, New light on ancient Egypt 
(London, 1908). 

—, Guide du visit cur au musee du Caire, 4th ed. 
(Cairo, 1915). 

W. R. Dawson, ‘Letters from Maspero to Amelia 
Edwards’, JEA 33 (1947), 66-89. 

mastaba (Arabic: ‘bench’) 

Arabic term applied to style of Egyptian tomb 
in which the superstructure resembles the low 
mud-brick benches outside Egyptian houses. 
Mastaba tombs have sloping walls, so that the 
roof area is smaller than that of the base. 

The mastaba tomb was used for both 
royal and private burials in the Early Dynastic 
period (3100-2686 bc) but only for private 
burials in the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 bc). It 
comprises a substructure, usually consisting of 
the burial chamber and magazines, surmount¬ 
ed by a mud-brick or stone superstructure. 
Ancillary buildings, notably chapels, were 
originally attached to the superstructure but 
were gradually incorporated into it. The best 
evidence for mastabas of the Early Dynastic 
period derives from aby Dos and saqqara, sup¬ 
plemented by those at naqada. For the Old 
Kingdom, gi/.a, saqqara, abustr and meidum 
are all important mastaba cemeteries. 

Early Dynastic mastabas comprise a pit cut 
into the rock and divided by brick partitions. 
The central chamber, that for the burial, was 
sometimes decorated. In the earliest examples, 
the underground rooms did not have connect¬ 
ing doors, and all were roofed over with tim¬ 
ber. As a result the burial had to be made 
before the brick superstructure w T as completed. 
From the mid 1st Dynasty onwards a stairway 
was incorporated into the design allowing eas¬ 
ier access to the tomb, and completion of the 



Cut-away drawing of an Old Kingdom private 
mastaba tomb. 

superstructure before burial was made. This 
stairway was blocked by portcullises in an 
attempt to prevent robbery of the burial and 
magazines, some of which began to be incor¬ 
porated into the superstructure. Bv the late 
2nd Dynasty a series of rock-cut chambers 
sometimes led from a central corridor beneath 
the superstructure. Tombs were surrounded 
by an enclosure wall, which, like the super¬ 
structure, took the form of a palace-facade 
design (see serekh) during the 1st Dynasty. 
Some of these tombs were accompanied also 
by boat pits. Superstructures of the 2nd 
Dynasty were plainer, except for niches at the 
north and south ends of the eastern wall. 

During the 3rd Dynasty (2686-2613 bc), 
the pyramid complex developed as the royal 
burial monument, but the mastaba continued 
to be used by the rest of the elite, although the 
number of subterranean rooms was gradu¬ 
ally reduced until, by the 4th Dynasty 
(2613-2494 bc), only a burial chamber 
remained, connected to the superstructure by 
a vertical shaft which could be blocked with 
rubble. This type of mastaba was built 
throughout the rest of the Old Kingdom. 
Panelled facades regained popularity during 
the 3rd Dynasty, although not always on all 
sides of the tomb, and by the 4th Dynasty 
stone had become the preferred building 
material. Similarly, the southern offering 
niche, which had evolved into a simple chapel, 
became larger, developing into a distinct room 
within the superstructure, and by the 5th and 
6th Dynasties (2494-2181 bc.) a whole series of 
rooms had developed in the superstructure, 

transforming it into a funerary chapel. These 
often bore elaborate decoration, including 
scenes of daily life which are valuable for the 
understanding of agricultural and craft activi¬ 
ties (see merf.ruka and ty). 

The chapel contained the false door stele 
and altar, usually located in an offering cham¬ 
ber above the burial. Here the family would 
come to make their offerings to the deceased. 
An offering formula carved on the walls 
would also magically ensure sustenance for the 
deceased, statues of whom were walled up in a 
SERDAB and visible only through small open¬ 
ings in the masonry. During the Old 
Kingdom, the afterlife of officials depended 
on royal favour, and their tombs, granted by 
die king, clustered around his monument, as 
in the ‘streets’ of tombs at Gi/.A and saqqara. 

Mastaba tombs continued to be constructed 
for private individuals at sites such as abusir, 
edfu, Qatta and Qubaniya during the Middle 
Kingdom, sometimes copying the pyramids of 
the 12th Dynasty (1985-1795 bc) in their use 
of elaborate open-excavation corridors. At 
most other sites, the rock-cut tomb had essen¬ 
tially replaced the mastaba as the principal 
form of private funerary architecture. In the 
New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), however, the 
so-called ‘chapel-tombs’, particularly exem¬ 
plified by the Memphite tomb of i ioremheb at 
Saqqara, have been likened by some scholars 
to the mastaba form. The superstructure of 
these chapel-tombs usually had the appear¬ 
ance of a shrine or temple consisting of a set of 
rooms arranged along an axis, in contrast to 
the relatively solid mass of the Old and Middle 
Kingdom mastabas. Shafts led down to the 
burial chamber from the courtyards of the 

Chapel-tombs were also common after the 
end of the New Kingdom, as in the case of the 
royal tombs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties 
(1069-715 bc) in the precincts of the temple 
of Amun at tanis, which probably originally 
had superstructures of this type (although 
only the substructures have survived). The 
Late Period tombs of the god’s wives of amun 
at medinet habu were also in the same archi¬ 
tectural tradition. 

W. B. Emery, Archaic Egypt (Harmondsworth, 

J. Brinks, ‘Mastaba und Pyramidcntcmpcl - ein 
struktureller Vergleich’, GM 39 (1980), 45-60. 

A. J. Spencer* Death in ancient Egypt 
(Harmondsworth, 1982), 45—111. 

P. Watson, Egyptian Pyramids and mastaba tombs 
(Aylesbury, 1987). 

S. D’Auria, P. Lacoyara and C. H. Rokiirig 
(eds). Mummies and magic (Boston, 1988). 

N. Cherpion, Mastabas et hypogees d'Ancien 
Empire: le probleme de la datation (Brussels, 


mathematics and numbers 

The Egyptian numerical system was a combi¬ 
nation of the decimal and the repetitive. It 
lacked a symbol for zero, but scribes occasion¬ 
ally left a gap between numbers as though 
such a sign existed. The following signs were 
used to represent numbers: 



1,000,000 [often meaning 
‘more than I can count’]. 

Numbers were written from the largest to the 
smallest, so that 1,122 (reading „ 
from right to left) would be: 11 n n ^ J 

Unlike the Greeks, the Egyptians did not 
develop abstract formulae, but proceeded by a 
series of smaller calculations. The state of 
mathematical knowledge in the Pharaonic 
period has been deduced from a small number 
of mathematical texts, comprising four 
papyri (the Moscow, Berlin, Kahun and, most 
famously, Rhind), a leather scroll and two 
wooden tablets. A number of mathematical 
papyri written in the demotic script have also 
survived from the Ptolemaic period 
(332-30 bc). 

The modern surveys of monuments have 
enabled much to be deduced concerning the 
Egyptians’ practical use of mathematics, and - 






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sertion of the RhineI Mathematical Papyrus , 
written in the Hyksos period, /;«/ claiming to be a 
copy of a 12th-Dynasty work. This part of the text 
consists of a series of problems concerning the 
volumes of rectangles, triangles and pyramids. 15th 
Dynasty, c .1550 ac, papyrus, from Thebes, 
it. 32 cm. (e i 10057, sheet 8) 

at least since the time of Flinders Petrie’s sur¬ 
vey of GIZA - it has been clear that the meth¬ 
ods involved in setting out the pyramid com¬ 
plexes (2686-1650 bc) were pragmatic rather 
than mystical. 

The Egyptians’ calculation of whole num¬ 
bers was relatively simple: to multiply by ten, 
for example, the appropriate hieroglyphs were 
changed for the next highest, so that ten, for 
instance, could become one hundred. In other 
calculations, a sum equal to the desired multi¬ 
plier was reached by a process of doubling, 
while the multiplicand was itself doubled as 
many times as necessary for the multiplier. 
Thus the sum 17X19 would be calculated by 
first deriving the multiplier from the table 
below, in which 16 + 2+1 = 19: 













Once a number was reached which was equal to 
half or more of that desired, no further doubling 
was needed. Thus, in the case cited above, 16 

is more than half of 19. All that was now : 
necessary was to read across the table and add 
the relevant figures (marked above by an 
asterisk), 272 + 34 + 17 = 323, which is the 
product of 17 X 19. Hence there was no need 
for multiplication tables, simply tables of 
duplication. Division was achieved by revers¬ 
ing this process. 

The use of fractions appears to have caused 
more difficulties, particularly as the Egyptians 
recognized only those in which the numerator 
was one, all of which were written by placing 
the hieroglyph ‘r’ above the relevant number: 
thus one-third would have been rendered as 
. There were, however, also some spe¬ 
cial signs for such commonly used fractions as 
two-thirds, three-quarters, four-fifths and 
five-sixths, and the Rhine! Papyrus is excep¬ 
tional in presenting a table of fractions in 
which the numerator is two. Complicated frac¬ 
tions were w ritten by reducing them to two or 
three separate fractions, the first of which had 
the smallest possible denominator. Thus two- 
fifths was written as one-third + one-fifteenth. 
In calculations fractions were broken down 
and thus treated as whole numbers. 

The Egyptians used the observation of 
practical situations to develop geometrical 
knowledge early in their history. They knew 
that the area of a rectangle was equal to its 
length multiplied by its width. They had also 
found that if a triangle was drawn inside the 
rectangle, having the same length as its sides 
and the same height as its width, then its area 
would be half that of the rectangle. 

However, the Egyptians’ major achieve¬ 
ment in geometry was the calculation of the 
area of a circle according to the length of its 
diameter. This was done by squaring eight- 
ninths of the diameter’s length, which giv es an 
approximate value for pi of 3.16. With their 
knowledge of area, they were also able to cal¬ 
culate volume, including that for a cylinder 
and pyramid, even when truncated. This again 
was achiev ed by a series of smaller calcula¬ 
tions, which, although they lack the elegance 
of formulae, are nevertheless correct. 

In the absence of formulae, scribes learned 
their mathematics by copying out set exam¬ 
ples, replacing the figures with their own. 
Unlike the Mesopotamian mathematicians the 
Egyptians were more interested in practicali¬ 
ties than in theory. Nevertheless, certain cal¬ 
culations in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus 
end with the short phrase mitt pw (fit is 
equal’), which is used where calculations could 
not be exactly matched to proofs. 

C. F. Nims, ‘The bread and beer problems of the 
Moscow 1 Mathematical Papyrus’, JTLl 44 (1958), 

R. J. GiLLlNGS, Mathematics in the time of the 
pharaohs (Cambridge, MA, 1972). 

R. A. Parker, Demotic mathematical papyri 
(London, 1972). 

J. Svastal, ‘Beitrag zur Erforschung der 
Geschiehte derVermessungskunde im alten 
Agypten’, Acta Polytechnica , Peace Cl UT 
v Praze 13 (1983), 69—80. 

G. Robins and C. Shute, The Rhind 
mathematical papyrus (London, 1987). 


Knowledge of weights and measures w as fun¬ 
damental to the smooth running of the 
Egyptian bureaucracy. This is evident from 
tomb scenes showing scribes recording the 
amount of grain or counting catdc (see TAX¬ 
ATION), and from the measured rations and 
w eights of copper issued at deir el-medina, as 
well as vignettes of the weighing of the heart 

The main unit of measurement was the 
royal cubit (52.4 cm), approximately the 
length of a man’s forearm and represented by 
the hieroglyph >o—U . The royal cubit com¬ 
prised 7 palm w idths each of 4 digits of thumb 
width (thus 28 digits to the cubit). Artists 
generally used a grid to lay out their drawings, 
and until the end of the Third Intermediate 
Period (1069-747 bc) they used the ‘short 
cubit’ of 6 palms (44.9cm) which was roughly 
the length from elbow to thumb tip, conven¬ 
tionally 45 cm. From the s.aite period 
(66T-525 bc.) onwards, however, the royal 
cubit was used by artists. During the Persian 




occupation, on the other hand, the royal 
Persian cubit of 64.2 cm was sometimes used, 
although a reference cubit for this measure at 
Abydos is actually 63.85 cm long. 

The length of the double remen was equal to 
that of the diagonal of a square with sides of 
1 royal cubit (74.07 cm). The double remen , 
divided into forty smaller units of 1.85 cm each, 
was the measurement used in land surveying, 
long with the la (or meh-ta ) of 100 royal cubits. 
Area was measured by setjat (100 cubic square), 
later called the aroura. 

A number of measuring rods, including the 
wooden examples used by craftsman and 
surveyors, have survived.The most detailed 
knowledge of the cubit derives not from worka¬ 
day measures, which could vary considerably, 
but from ceremonial cubit-rods cut in stone 
and deposited in temples, or occasionally 
buried with officials. These were also inscribed 

the kite measured silver or gold only. They 
were used to describe the equivalent value of 
a wide variety of non-metallic goods, thus 
forming a rudimentary price system in the 
non-monetary economy of the Pharaonic 
period (see trade). 

Measures of capacity also existed, notably 
the hin (about 0.47 1): ten hinw making one 
hekal of about 4.77 1, and one khar making 160 
hinw (75.2 1). The hin could be subdivided into 
units as small as V 37 , as well as into thirds, 
known as khay. Scribes measuring grain are 
depicted in the tomb of Menna. 

A. Whig all, Weights and balances ( Cairo, 1908). 

J. Cerny, ‘Prices and wages in Egypt in the 
Ramesside period 1 , Cahiersd'HistoireMmuliale 1 
(1954), 903-21. 

F. G. Skinner, ‘Measures and weights 1 , I history 
of technology 1 , ed. C. Singer, E. J. Holmyard and 
A. R. Hall (Oxford, 1954), 774-84. 

the main temple, a much earlier phase, dated 
by pottery to the late Old Kingdom 
(r.2300-2181 bc), was uncovered in 1939. This 
consisted of a polygonal enclosure wall con¬ 
taining a grove of trees surrounding a small, 
roughly rectangular mud-brick temple. At the 
rear of the small temple there were two wind¬ 
ing corridors, each leading to a small chamber, 
and each chamber being covered by an oval 
mound of soil, perhaps symbolizing the 
primeval MOUND. This early ‘shrine 1 appears 
to lie outside the normal conventions of 
Pharaonic temple design. 

C. Robichon and A. Varille, ‘Medamoud: 
fouilles du Musee du Louvre, 1938’, CdE 14/27 
(1939), 82-7. 

—, Description sommaire du temple primitifde 
Medamoud (Cairo, 1940). 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 66-9. 

ABOVE Wooden cubit-rod. Late period, /.. 53.3 cm. 

RIGHT Fragment of schist cubit-rod. New 
Kingdom. 1 .. 15.2cm. (£436656) 

with other useful information such as inunda¬ 
tion levels or references to nomes (provinces), 
forming a kind of compendium of the sort once 
found in school exercise books in Europe. A 
knotted rope was used in surveying land, the 
boundaries of which could be marked with 
stones, as portrayed in the tomb of Menna at 
Thebes (tt69, 1 .1400 bc). 

Weights were also commonly used, and a 
large number in stone, pottery and bronze 
have survived; the earliest, excavated at 
Naqada, date to the Predynastic period 
(f. 3500—3100 bc). Many weights in the 
Dynastic period are inscribed, while others 
are in the shape of bulls’ heads, cattle or 
other animals. Weights were traditionally 
made in units known as dehens , weighing 
about 93.3 g, but after the 12th Dynasty 
(1985-1795 bc) this unit was supplemented 
by the kite of 9-10 g, and the deben itself was 
increased to weigh 10 kite. The deben was a 
measure of copper, silver or gold, whereas 

Medamud (anc. Madu) 

Site of an ancient town located 5 km northeast 
of karnak temple, at the northernmost edge of 
Thebes. The modern site is dominated bv a 
temple of the falcon-god MONTU which dates 
back at least to the Middle Kingdom 
(2055-1650 bc), although the nucleus of the 
complex is of the 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 bc) 
and the outer sections are Greco-Roman in date 
(332 bc—AD 395). The temple is dedicated to the 
local triad comprising Montu, Ra‘ttawv and 
Harpocrates (the child-like form of iiorus). 
Next to the main Greco-Roman temple was a 
SACRED lake and behind it was a smaller temple 
dedicated to the bull manifestation of Montu, 
similar to the Bucheum at ARMANT. 

The ground-plan of the Middle Kingdom 
phase of the temple of Montu has been oblit¬ 
erated by the later phases superimposed on it, 
but numerous stone architectural elements 
such as columns and royal statues have sur¬ 
vived, re-used elsewhere on the site. Beneath 


Egyptian medicine was a mixture of magical 
and religious spells with remedies based on 
keen observation of patients, and any attempt 
to impose the modern distinction between 
magic and medicine usually only confuses the 
picture. The most common cure for maladies 
was probably the amulet or the magic spell 
rather than medical prescriptions alone, since 
many illnesses tended to be regarded as the 
result of malignant influences or incorrect 

However, at least as early as the 3rd Dynasty 
(2686-2613 bc), there were already individuals 
corresponding roughly to the modern concept 
of a doctor, for whom the term sinw was used. 
There were also surgeons (called ‘priests of 
Sekhmet’) as well as the ancient equivalents of 
dental and veterinary practitioners. The 
Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 
fifth century bc, claimed that Egyptian doc¬ 
tors each had their own specializations, such as 




Detail of the London Medical Papyrus. New 
Kingdom , c. 1300-1200 bc. (tu10059). 

gynaecology or osteopathy, but there is no evi¬ 
dence that this was so in the Pharaonic period. 
Egyptian doctors appear to have been mainly 
men, given the fact that only one woman doc¬ 
tor is definitely attested, although this evi¬ 
dence may well be biased, in that the principal 
sources are inscriptions on funerary monu¬ 
ments, most of which were created for men 
rather than women. 

A number of surviving medical papyri pro¬ 
vide information concerning the Egyptians’ 
knowledge of medicine and the composition of 
the body. Such medical texts may have been 
housed in temple archives (see libraries), 
although the only evidence for this is the 
assertion of the Greek physician Galen 
(r.AD 129—99) that the ancient temple archives 
at Memphis were being consulted by Greek 
and Roman doctors of his own time. 

The Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus 
(«■. 1600 bc) was once thought to be the work 
of a military surgeon, but recent opinion 
suggests that its author may have been a doc¬ 
tor associated with a pyramid-building work¬ 
force. The text deals mainly with such prob¬ 
lems as broken bones, dislocations and 
crushings, dividing its forty-eight cases into 
three classes: 'an ailment which I will treat’, 
‘an ailment with which I w ill contend’ and an 
‘ailment not to be treated’. The symptoms of 
each case are described and where possible a 
remedy prescribed. Although it cannot be 
claimed that the writer fully understood the 
concept of the circulation of the blood, he 
clearly recognized that the condition of the 
heart could bc judged by the pulse: ‘The 
counting of anything with the fingers [is 
done] to recognize the way the heart goes. 
There are vessels in it leading to every part 
of the body . . . When a Sekhmet priest, 
any sinw doctor . . . puts his fingers to the 

head . . . to the two hands, to the place of the 
heart ... it speaks ... in every vessel, every 
part of the body.’ 

the Kahun Medical Papyrus (c.2 100-1900 
bc), w hich may also be the original source for 
the Ramesseum iv-v and Carlsberg vm 
papyri, deals with the ailments of women and 
is particularly concerned with the womb and 
the determination of fertility. It also 
describes such methods of contraception as 
the consumption of ‘excrement of crocodile 
mixed with sour milk’ or the injection of a 
mixture of honey and natron into the vagina. 
The Berlin Papyrus (r.1550 bc), on the other 
hand, contains the earliest known pregnancy 
test: ‘Barley and emmer’. ‘The women must 
moisten it with urine every day ... if both 
grow, she will give birth. If the barley grows, 
it means a male child. If the emmer grows it 
means a female child. If neither grows she 
will not give birth.’ Modern experiments 
have shown that the urine of a woman who is 
not pregnant will actually prevent the growth 
of barley, suggesting surprising scientific- 
support for this test. 

The Ebers Medical Papyrus (r.1555 bc) 
was originally over 20 m long and consisted 
simply of a list of some 876 prescriptions and 
remedies for such ailments as wounds, stom¬ 
ach complaints, gynaecological problems and 
skin irritations. Prescriptions were made up in 
proportions according to fractions based on 
parts of the eye of FIORUS, each part symboliz¬ 
ing a fraction from l / (A to V 2 . The Hearst 
Papyrus (c.1550 bc) is inscribed with over 
250 prescriptions, a number of which deal 
with broken bones and bites (including that of 
the hippopotamus) 

The Brooklyn Papyrus deals with 
snakebites at great length, while the Chester 
Beatty vi Papyrus (c. 1200 bc) is concerned 
only with diseases of the anus. The London 
Papyrus is one of the best examples of the 
Egyptian three-pronged approach to healing, 

which might be described as holistic in mod¬ 
ern terms. It consists of a combination of 
magical spells, rituals and practical prescrip¬ 
tions, all of which would have been consid¬ 
ered equally essential to the recovery of the 

It is clear from these works that it would be 
incorrect to suppose that the dissection 
involved in mummification provided the 
Egyptians w ith a good knowledge of the work¬ 
ings of the human body. The purpose of 
numerous organs remained unknown; for 
example, although it was known that brain 
damage could cause paralysis, it was not real¬ 
ized that the brain had anything to do with the 
act of thinking, an activity which the 
Egyptians ascribed to the heart. The purpose 
of the kidneys was also unknown, and it was 
belie\ed that all bodily fluids, such as blood, 
urine, excrement and semen, were constantly 
circulating around the body. 

In the Ptolemaic period (332—30 bc) Greek 
forms of medicine were combined w ith those 
of the Egyptians, just as the local deities were 
assimilated with those of the Greeks. Thus the 
deified imiiotkp become identified with the 
Greek god Asklepios, and the Asklepieion at 
Saqqara became a centre for medicine. 
Patients sometimes also stayed overnight in so- 
called incubation chambers at such temples, as 
in the cult-place of bes at Saqqara, in the hope 
of receiving a cure through divinely inspired 
dreams. From the Late Period (747-332 bc) 
onwards, sanatoria were often attached to 
major temples such as the cult-centre of 
Hathor at dendera. 

J. II. Breasted, The Edwin Smith Papyrus, 2 vols 
(Chicago, 1930). 

A. Gardiner, The Ramesseum Papyri (Oxford, 

P. Giialioungu, The physicians of pharaonic 
Egypt (Cairo, 1983) 

A.-P. Leca, La medecine egyptienne an temps des 
pharaons (Paris, 1983). 

J. Nunn, Ancient Egyptian medicine (London, 

Medinet el-Fayum (Kiman Fares; anc, 
Shedvet, Crocodilopolis) 

Site of the cult centre of the crocodile-god 
sober, located in the centre of the iayuvi 
REGION. It is not clear when the settlement of 
Shedvet was founded, but the earliest known 
architectural remains derive from a temple of 
Sobek constructed in the 12th Dynasty 
(1985—1795 bc) and restored by Rameses n 
(1279-1213 bc:). The settlement and the tem¬ 
ple must have particularly flourished during 
the late Middle Kingdom, when several rulers 
of the 13th Dynasty (1795-1650 bc) took 


mepinet habu 


courtyard of Antoninus Pius 8 first court 15 Gate of Rameses III 

Ptolemaic pylon 9 second pylon 16 palace 

eastern (fortified or ‘Migdol’) gateway 10 second court 17 western gateway 

tomb chapels of god’s wives of Amun 11 hypostyle hall 18 residential areas 

temple of Amun (of Hatshepsut/Thutmose III) 12 first vestibule 19 magazines 

sacred lake 13 second vestibule 20 indicates position of 

first pylon 14 sanctuary the house of Butehamun 

names including references to Sobek. Most of 
the surviving remains (including another tem¬ 
ple, a sacred lake and some baths) date to the 
Greco-Roman period (332 bc-ad 395), when 
the town was the capital of the province of 
Arsinoe. In the early twentieth century \i> 
the site still covered an area of some three 
hundred acres, but it has now diminished con¬ 
siderably because of the northwestward 
expansion of the modern city. 

L. KAkosy, ‘Krokodilskulte’, Lexikondcr 
Agyptologie ill, ed. W. Helck, E. Otto and 
W. Westendorf (Wiesbaden, 1980), 801-11. 

Medinet Habu (anc. Djamet; Djeme) 

Temple complex dating from the New 
Kingdom to the Late Period (c. 1550-332 bc) 
at the southern end of the Theban west bank, 
opposite modern Luxor. Most of the archaeo¬ 
logical and epigraphic work at the site was 
undertaken by the Chicago Epigraphic Survey 
in the 1920s and 1930s. 

The earliest section of the complex was a 
small temple built by Hatshepsut (1473-1458 
BC) and Thutmose in (1479-1425 bc), but this 
was later eclipsed by the construction of the 
mortuary temple of Rameses ill (1184—1153 
bc). The latter is aligned roughly southeast to 
northwest, but conventionally the side facing 
the Nile is described as east. The whole com¬ 
plex is surrounded bv massive mud-brick 
walls, with a copy of a Syrian fortress, known 
as a migdol, serving as its eastern gateway 
(sometimes called the ‘pavilion gate’). The 
heads of foreign captives are displayed below 
windows in the eastern passage of the gateway. 
In rooms above the gate are scenes showing 
Rameses in at leisure, playing draughts with 
the women of his i-iarim. It is possible that it 
was in this private suite of rooms that an 
unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Rameses in 
took place. Nearby was a landing stage where 
boats could moor, having reached the site by a 
canal from the Nile. 

The exterior walls of the temple are deco¬ 
rated with scenes from the various campaigns 
of Rameses in, notably his wars with the 
Libyans and the sea peoples, who are also 
depicted in the first court of the temple. 
The first pylon shown the king smiting his 
enemies, while rows of human-headed 
‘name rings’ depict the conquered lands. The 
second court is devoted to scenes of religious 
processions, notably those of min and solar. 
Despite the generally good state of preser¬ 
vation of the temple, the hypostyle hall 
has suffered greatly, the columns being- 
reduced to only a few metres. However, in 
the southwest corner is a treasury building 
with scenes depicting some of the temple 

The temple complex of Rameses ill at Medinel Ilalm. 

equipment. Other temple valuables were 
probably kept in a better concealed building 
immediately in front of the north wall of the 

sanctuary. The focus of the main axis of the 
temple is the sanctuary of Amun, behind 
which lies a false door for ‘Amun-Ra united 
with eternity’, namely the divine form of 
Rameses in. 




The temple of Medinet Hahn. Set within mud- 
brick enclosure walls (left and right) is the 
mortuary temple of Raineses in, the first pylon of 
which is shown here , as well as other buildings. In 
the foreground (left) the chapels of the god's wives 
of Amun can be seen. (r. r. xterror.sox) 

On the southeastern side of the temple are 
the remains of a royal palace, which was prob¬ 
ably much smaller than the king’s main resi¬ 
dence, serving as a spiritual palace as well as 
for occasional royal visits. It was originally 
decorated with glazed tiles, many of which are 
now in the Cairo Museum, and its bathrooms 
were lined with limestone to protect the mud- 
brick. From the palace the king could enter the 
first court, or peruse it from a ‘window of 
appearances’ on its southern side 

Because of its strong fortifications, 
Medinet Habu became a refuge in unsettled 
times, and the residents of the workmen’s vil¬ 
lage at DEIR EL-MEDLNA moved there during the 
late 20th Dynasty (c. 1100-1069 bc); the 
remains of the house of one of the village 
scribes, Butehamun, are at the western end of 
the temple. At some later time, however, the 
temple defences were overwhelmed and the 
west gate demolished. Near the eastern gate 
are a group of ‘chapel-tombs’, beneath which 
several of the 25th- and 26th-Dvnasty god’s 
wives or AMUN (Shepenwepet n, Amenirdis i, 
Shepenwepet ill and Mehitenwesekhet) were 

The route to the Amun temple of 
Hatshepsut andThutmose in underwent mod¬ 
ifications in the 25th Dynasty (747- 656 bc), 
and in Ptolemaic and Roman times. In the 
Ptolemaic period the town of Djeme was built 
within the main walled compound. It derived 
its name from the ancient Egyptian term for 
the site,Tjamet or Djamet, and took advantage 

of the protection offered by the site. During 
this time the second court of Ramcses in’s 
temple was used as a church. For a discussion 
of the archaeological significance of New 
Kingdom mortuary temples, see ramksskum 
(on which the basic plan of Rameses ill’s mor¬ 
tuary temple was modelled). 

Epigrapidc Survey, Chicago, Medinet Habu , 

8 vols (Chicago, 1930-70). 

U. Holschkr, The excavation of Medinet Habu, 

5 vols (Chicago, 1934-54). 

W. J. Murnane, United with eternity: a concise 
guide to the monuments of Medinet Habu (Chicago 
and Cairo, 1980). 

Medinet Maadi (anc. Dja; Narmouthis) 

Site in the southwestern Fayum region where 
a temple of the cobra-goddess RENENUTET (a 
harvest deity) was founded during the reigns 
of amenemiiat hi and n (1855-1799 bc). It was 
later expanded and embellished during the 
Greco-Roman period. The dark sandstone 
inner part of the temple consists of a small 
papyrus-columned hall leading to a sanctuary 
comprising three chapels, each containing 
statues of deities. The central chapel incorpo¬ 
rated a large statue of Renenutet, with 
Amenemhat ill and iv standing on either side 
of her. The Ptolemaic parts of the temple com¬ 
prise a paved processional way passing 
through an eight-columned kiosk leading to a 
portico and transverse vestibule. It has been 
suggested that the unusually good preserva¬ 
tion of this temple complex, excavated by a 
team of archaeologists from the University of 
Milan in the 1930s, may have been due simply 
to its relative seclusion. 

A.Vogliano, Primo (e secondo) rapporto degli 
scavi condetti della R. Universila di Milano nella 
zona diMadinet Maadi, 1935-6 (Milan, 1936-7). 
R. Naumann, ‘DerTempel des Mittleren 

Reiches in Medinet Madi’, MDA1K 8 (1939), 


Nomadic group originally from the eastern 
deserts of Nubia, who were commonly 
employed as scouts and light infantry from the 
Second Intermediate Period (1650-1550 bc) 
onwards. They have been identified with the 
archaeological remains of the so-called pan- 
gram-; culture, although some scholars dis¬ 
agree w ith this association. 

E. (ed.), Agypten and Kitsch (Berlin, 
1977), 227-8. 

B. J. Kemp, ‘Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom 
and Second Intermediate Period', Ancient Egypt: 
a social history , B. G. Trigger et al. (Cambridge, 
1983), 71-182 (169-71). 

Megiddo, Battle of 

Conflict between the armies of the 18th- 
Dvnasty ruler THUTMOSE ill (1479-1425 bc) 
and those of the prince of the Syro-Palestinian 
city of Qadesh. The latter was no doubt 
backed by the military might of the state of 
MiTANNi, which had created a network of vas¬ 
sal city-states in Syria during the early 15th 
century bc. The ‘annals’ of the reign of 
Thutmose lit, compiled by the military scribe 
Tjaneni and inscribed on the walls of the Hall 
of Annals in the temple of Amun at karnak, 
have provided the details of the Battle of 
Megiddo, as well as sixteen further campaigns 
in the Levant. 

Less than a year after assuming sole rule of 
Egypt (i.e. after the death of hatshepsut), 
Thutmose embarked on a campaign to deal 
with an uprising of Syro-Palestinian city- 
states. A council of war between the king and 
his generals revealed that there were three 
possible strategies for attacking the prince of 
Qadesh, whose armies were encamped near 
the city of Megiddo: to take a southerly route 
via a town called Taanach, which lay about 
eight kilometres southeast of Megiddo; to 
march northwards to the town of Djefty, 
emerging to the west of Megiddo; or to head 
directly across the ridge, which would allow 
them to appear from the hills about two kilo¬ 
metres from Megiddo. In time-honoured 
fashion, the pharaoh chose the direct 
approach, against the advice of his generals 
and despite the dangers involved in a three- 
day march single-file through a narrow pass. 
This route, however, was negotiated success¬ 
fully, allowing them to launch a surprise 
frontal attack on the enemy. In the ensuing 
slaughter, the Asiatics fled into the city, leaving 
behind the kings of Qadesh and Megiddo, who 
had to be hauled on to the battlements by their 




clothing. After a seven-month siege, Megiddo 
was captured, bringing the campaign to a suc¬ 
cessful conclusion. 

H. H. Nelson, The battle of Megiddo (Chicago, 

H. Grapow, Studien zh den Annalett Thuttnosis 
des dritten and zu ihnen verwandlen historischen 
Berichten des Neuen Reiches (Berlin, 1949). 

A. J. Spaungkr, ‘Some notes on the Battle of 
Megiddo and reflections on Egyptian military 
writing’, MDAJK 30 (1974), 221-9. 

—, ‘Some additional remarks on the battle of 
Megiddo’, GM 33 (1979), 47-54. 


Funerary site of an unusual early pyramid 
complex and associated private cemetery, situ¬ 
ated close to the Favum region. The pyramid 

Cross-section through the pyramid at Meidum, 
showing how the original stepped pro files (l, 2) 
were infilled to give the smooth profile (3). The 
burial chamber is labelled 4. 

is usually ascribed to Huni (2637-2613 bc), 
last king of the 3rd Dynasty, although his 
name does not appear anywhere on the monu¬ 
ment and it is perhaps more likely that his 
funerary monument would have been located 
at SAQQARA (possibly in an unexcavated enclo¬ 
sure to the west of the step pyramids of Djos- 
ER and SEKHT.Mkiiet ). The Meidum pyramid 
may have belonged to his son sneferu, whose 
name is mentioned in graffiti dating to the 
New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) in the passage 
and chamber of a small mortuary temple at the 
site. Alternatively it may have been completed 
by Sneferu but begun by Huni, since Sneferu 
himself appears to have had two pyramid com¬ 
plexes at DAHSHUR. 

The modern appearance of the Meidum 
pyramid is that of a stepped tower, but it was 
originally constructed as a seven-stepped 
pyramid, amended to eight steps, and finally 
provided with a smooth outer casing to trans¬ 
form it into the earliest true pyramid 

(although Sneferu’s ‘north’ pyramid at 
Dahshur may have been the earliest to have 
been designed as such from the outset). It was 
once suggested that the outer casing of the 
Meidum pyramid collapsed early in the 4th 
Dynasty, and thus inspired the change of angle 
in the final stages of Sneferu’s ‘bent’ pyramid 
at Dahshur, assuming that both were being 
built simultaneously. However, the presence of 
a well-established cemetery of early 4th- 
Dynasty MASTABA tombs surrounding the 
pyramid, as well as the New Kingdom graffiti 
in the mortuary temple, all make it more like¬ 
ly that the collapse came much later, and cer¬ 
tainly no earlier than the New Kingdom. 

The corbelled burial chamber was built into 
the superstructure of the pyramid at the level 
of the old ground surface, and, in its architec- 

reliefs and statuary. The internal walls of the 
superstructure of the tomb of Nefcrmaat and 
his wife Atet were decorated with painted 
scenes of daily life, including the celebrated 
depiction of the ‘Meidum Geese’. The same 
tomb also includes an innovative, but appar¬ 
ently short-lived, form of wall decoration 
using coloured paste inlays. The painted lime¬ 
stone statues of Rahotep and Nofret (Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo), probably a son and daugh¬ 
ter-in-law of Sneferu, were discovered by 
Auguste Mariette in 1871 in a mastaba to the 
north of the pyramid. The earliest surviving 
mummy, dating to the 5th Dynasty, was exca¬ 
vated by Flinders Petrie at Meidum in 1891, 
but it was later destroyed when the Royal 
College of Surgeons was bombed during the 
Second World War. 

The pyramid of Meidum now presents a lower-like 
appearance due to the loss of its original casing. It 
was probably constructed by either Huni or his son, 
Sneferu. (p. t. mciiolsos) 

tural sophistication, it is regarded as second 
only to the ‘grand gallery’ in the Great 
Pyramid of Khufu (2589—2566 bc) at GIZA. 
The building interpreted as a mortuary tem¬ 
ple on the east side of the pyramid was found 
to incorporate two enormous uninscribed 
round-topped stone stelae probably forming- 
part of an offering chapel. An open causeway 
led to the valley temple, which has not yet 
been excavated. 

The mastaba cemeteries, located north and 
east of the pyramid, have provided some of the 
best examples of early 4th-Dvnasty paintings, 

W. M. F. Petrie, Meydum (London, 1892). 

W. M. F. Petrie, E. Mackay and G. A. 
WAINWRIGHT, Meydum and Memphis lit 
(London, 1910). 

K. Mendeesson, ‘A building disaster at the 
Meidum pyramid’, JEA 59 (1973), 60-71. 

I. E. S. Edwards, ‘The collapse of the Meidum 
pyramid’, JEA 60 (1974), 251-2. 

R. Stadelmann, ‘Snofru und die Pvramiden von 
Meidum und Daschur’, MDAIK 36 (1980), 

M. Saleh and H. Sourouzian, The Egyptian 
Museum, Cairo (Mainz, 1987), nos 25-7. 

I. E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt, 5th ed. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 71—8. 


Group of decorated rock-cut tombs in Middle 




1 palace of Apries 

10 temple of Rameses II 

2 northern enclosure wall 

11 Kom Rabia 

3 modern village of Mit Rahina 

12 Kom Fakhry: area of First Intermediate 


4 enclosure wall of the temple of Ptah 

Period tombs and section of Middle N 

5 hypostyle hall 

Kingdom settlement 

13 C* 

6 west pylon 

13 temple of Ptah 

7 embalming house of Apis bulls 

14 palace of Merenptah 

8 ‘alabaster'sphinx 

15 ruins of unidentified structure ^ r -_4 

9 colossi of Rameses II 



“■Hi ii 


r r - " 

ii 1; 



}1 !i 


U i 1 


ii i 1 

\\ 15 

7 i 11 


l ! , l , j 5 I 

;; ii 


1 [L _ .Q 



\\ 1 - - - 

--3 6 


1 1 1 1 1 


1 1 1 

0 100 200 300 400 

500 600 700 m 

Egypt, about 50 km northwest of modern 
Asyut. The tombs, dating to the 6th and 12th 
Dynasties (2345—2181 and 1985—1795 nc 
respectively), were badly pillaged during the 
nineteenth century and eventually excavated 
and recorded by Aylward Blackman between 
1912 and 1950. They contained the funerary 
remains of the governors of Cusae and mem¬ 
bers of their families, while the shaft-tombs of 
their servants were cut into the surrounding- 
cliffs. Among the most important tombs are 
those of Niankhpepykem, a chancellor of Pep) i 
(ai; 2321-2287 nc), and Senbi, a nomarch 
(provincial governor) during the reign of 
Amenemhat i (bi; 1985-1955 nc). There are 
few remaining traces of the town of Cusae 
(Qis), the capital of the fourteenth province of 
Upper Egypt, which was situated about eight 
kilometres to the east. 

A. M. Bi.ackman. The rock tombs oJ Meir, 6 vols 
(London, 1914—53). 

Memnon see colossi of mf.mnon 

Memphis (Men-nefer) 

Capital city of Egypt for most of the 
Pharaonic period, the site of which is centred 
on the modern village of Mil Rahina, some 
24 km south of modern Cairo. It was capital of 
the first Lower Egyptian nomf. and the admin¬ 
istrative capital during the Early Dynastic 
period (3100-2686 nc) and Old Kingdom 
(2686-2181 nc). It is said to have been found¬ 
ed by the Ist-Dvnasty ruler mfnfs. 

The ‘Memphite necropolis’, located to the 
west of the city, includes (north to south) \nu 
SAQQARA and daiishur, covering a distance of 
approximately 35 km. Saqqara, however, is 
both the largest and nearest section of the 
necropolis. Very few tombs are actually located 
at Memphis itself, although a few from the 
First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 nc) have 
been discovered close to Mit Rahina, while at 
Kom Fakhry there are tombs of 22nd-Dynasty 
high priests (945-715 nc). 

The name Memphis seems to derive from 
the pyramid town associated with the pyramid 
of Pepy i (2321-2287 nc) at Saqqara, which 
was called Men-nefer (meaning ‘established 
and beautiful’). A more ancient name for the 
city was Ineb-hedj (‘White Walls’ or ‘White 
Fortress’), which probably referred to the 
appearance of the fortified palace of one of the 
earliest kings. It has been suggested that this 
original town may have been located near the 
modern village of Abusir and that the settle¬ 
ment gradually shifted southwards toward 
modern Mit Rahina. The location of the site at 
the apex of the Delta made it well suited for 

Plan of Memphis. 

the control of both this and the Nile valley, so 
that it was sometimes also known as the ‘bal¬ 
ance of the two lands’. 

The remains of early Memphis lie beneath 
thick deposits of Nile alluvium, and much is 
below the water table. However, a survey 
directed by David Jeffreys on behalf of the 
Egypt Exploration Society is attempting to 
locate an early settlement in an area of ancient 
higher ground by means of a series of drill 
corings forming the basis for a map of the sub- 
surface topographv. 

The most obvious monuments at the site 
belong to the New Kingdom, the time when 
THEBES had become the religious and admin¬ 
istrative centre of Egypt. Nevertheless, 
Memphis retained a great deal of impor¬ 
tance, and continued to serve as the northern 
capital. Indeed many scholars see it as the 
‘real’ administrative capital for most of 
Pharaonic history. The visible New 
Kingdom monuments comprise the temple 
of I’TAli, patron of the city, much of which 
dates to the time of Rameses ii 
(1279—1213 bc). However, Ptah, who at 
Memphis formed a triad with sekmmet and 
nefertem, was one of the most ancient 
deities of Egypt, and earlier temples to him 
clearly existed. Part of the Ramesside temple 
re-uses pyramid casing blocks, perhaps 
brought from Saqqara, and earlier elements, 
including a lintel of Amenemhat ill 
(1855—1808 bc), have been found there, indi¬ 
cating that older structures remain to be dis¬ 
covered. A fallen colossus of Rameses u and 

an ‘alabaster’ sphinx of the New Kingdom 
are those features of the site most commonly 
visited in modern times, since the temple is 
often flooded owing to the high water table. 

The Kom Qala area of the site contains 
the remains of a palace of Merenptah (1213— 
1203 bc:), successor to Rameses n, along with a 
smaller Ptah temple. Nearby Petrie discovered 
the remains of an industrial site of the Roman 
period, where faience was being produced. 
The Kom Rabia area was the focus of a British 
excavation during the 1980s, yielding a valu¬ 
able ceramic chronological sequence for the 
New Kingdom and part of the Middle 
Kingdom, as well as giving greater insights 
into a small part of the ancient city. 

An embalming house for the aims bull, liv¬ 
ing manifestation of Ptah, wmis built b\ 
Sheshonq i (945—924 bc) of the 22nd Dynasty, 
probably replacing an earlier structure, and 
traces of this, including enormous travertine 
embalming tables, are still visible. T his too has 
been the subject of recent excavation. North of 
the precinct of Ptah is an enclosure of the Late 
Period, best known for the impressive 26th- 
Dynasty palace mound of Apries (589-570 bc). 
Perhaps intentionally, this mound would have 
provided Apries with a clear view of the 
Saqqara necropolis, which was a source of 
inspiration for artistic revival during the 

In Ptolemaic times the city dwindled in 
importance, losing out to the new sea-port at 
Alexandria, while the founding of Fustat, 
ultimately to become part of Cairo (after the 
Arab conquest in 641), dealt the final blow to 
the city. Its remains were still clearly visible 




in the twelfth century ad, but like the stone 
buildings of its necropolis they have suffered 
from ‘quarrying’ and the activities of 
sebakhin (farmers using ancient mud-brick as 

W. M. F. Petrie, Memphis i (London, 1909). 

R. Antiies, Mitrahina 1956 (Philadelphia, 1965). 
B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography m/2 (Oxford, 1978), 830-75. 

D. G. Jeffreys, The survey of Memphis (London, 

D. G. Jeffreys and A. T w ares, ‘The historic 
landscape of Early Dynastic Memphis’, AIDA IK 
50(1994), 143-74. 

Mendes (anc. Per-banebdjedet) 

Tell el-Rub‘a is the site of Per-banebdjedet, 
die capital of the sixteenth Lower Egyptian 
NOME. The chief deity here was originally die 
goddess hat-meiht, but from the 2nd Dynasty 
(2890-2686 bc) onwards she was increasingly 
replaced by her consort, the ram-god 
Banebdjedet (ha [manifestation] of the Lord of 
Djedet). Their son ITarpocrates (see iiorus) 
completed the Mendesian triad. The earliest 
surviving structures at the site are MASTABA 
tombs of the late Old Kingdom, and a granite 
NAOS of the time of Ahmose n (570-526 bc.) is 
the earliest of the temple remains. The associ¬ 
ated city may have been the home-town, and 
perhaps also the capital, of some of the rulers 
of the 29th Dynasty (399-380 bc). The Greek 
historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt 
around 450 bc, noted the sacrifice of goats at 
Mendes, in contrast to the use of sheep else¬ 
where in Egypt. It is possible, however, that he 
mistook the sacred ram for a goat. There are 

The ‘ram of Mendes'. 26th Dynasty, c.600 BC, 
glass, l. of base 9 cm. (ea63772) 

also traces of minor Ramesside buildings at 
the site. Fresh fieldw ork during the 1980s has 
revealed settlement remains of the late 
Predvnastic and Early Dynastic periods. 

II. De Meui.enaere and P. Mackay, Mendes ii 
(Warminster, 1976). 

D. J. Brevi er and R. J. Wen re, ‘Transitional late 
Predvnastic—Early Dynastic occupations at 
Mendes: a preliminary report’, The Site Della in 
transition: It It 3rd millennium BC, ed. E. C. M. 
van den Brink (Tel Aviv, 1992), 191-7. 

Menes (<-.3000 bc) 

According to the Egyptian historian 
manetho (r. 305-285 bc), Menes was the 
founder of the Egyptian state, responsible for 

Inscription on an ivory label for an oiljar, with a 
record of events in the reign of King Aha. At the 
right-hand side of the lop register is the hieroglyph 
men, which has been interpreted as the name of 
Alettes. Early Dynastic Period, c .3100 bc, ivory, 
front the mastaba tomb ofNeithhotep at Naqada, 
n. 4.8 cm. (cairo ji:31773) 

the Unification of the Two Lands. 
Unfortunately it is not clear whether Menes 
is to be identified with the historical figures 
narmer or aha. An ivory plaque from naqada 
bears the name of both Menes (Men) and 
Aha, although it has been argued that it prob¬ 
ably records a visit by the latter to a place 
connected with Menes. Many scholars now 
believe that Narmer is the legendary Menes, 
since the two names are linked on jar-sealings 
from abydos. However, the identification 
remains uncertain. In either case we know 
virtually nothing of the reign of this ruler. 
His great achievement, the unification of 
Egypt, now stands as his only memorial. The 
Greek writer Herodotus credits him with 
draining the plain of Memphis, but without 
any evidence. To the ancient Egyptians he 
was the first human ruler, whereas earlier 
kings w r ere regarded as demi-gods. 

W. B. Emery, Archaic Egypt (Harmondsworth, 

Menkaura (2552-2503 bc) 

Penultimate king of the 4th Dynasty, and 
builder of the third pyramid at GIZA. He was 
the son of khafra (2558-2532 bc) and grand¬ 
son of kiiufu (2589-2566 bc), the builders of 
the two other pyramids at the site. The surviv¬ 
ing details of his life are largely anecdotal and 
derive principally from the Greek historian 
Herodotus, who describes him as a pious and 

/ Vooden coffin front the pyramid of the 4 th- 
Dynasty ruler Menkaura at Giza. 26th Dynasty, 
c .664-525 bc. (1:46647) 

just ruler. When told by the oracle of buto 
that he had only six years to live, he is said to 
have effectively doubled his remaining life by 
banqueting through the hours of each night. 

His pyramid complex was excavated by 
George reisner, although the pyramid itself 
had been entered previously by a number of 
early nineteenth-century Egyptologists, 
including Colonel Vyse, who removed a fine 
sarcophagus (decorated in the palace-facade 
style; see serek.ii) and attempted to send it 
back to England by boat. Unfortunately it w as 
lost when the merchant vessel Beatrice sank in 
October 1838. How ever, part of an anthropoid 
coffin bearing the name of the king was safely 
removed to London along with bones from the 
burial chamber. It is now know n that the date 
of the coffin cannot be any earlier than saite 




Greymacke triad statue of Menkaura, 
accompanied by the goddess Hal/tor (on his right) 
and the personification of the 17th name of Upper 
Egypt (on his left). It mas excavated by the 
Harvard-Boston expedition from the valley temple 
of Menkaura at Giza in 1908, along with three 
other triads in perfect condition and a fragment of 
a fifth. 4th Dynasty, c .2500 tic, //. 92.5 cm. 

(cairo ji:40679) 

times (664—525 bc), and was probably a later 
reburial of remains believed to be those of the 
king, although the associated bones have been 
dated to the Coptic period. 

The pyramid, which covers less than a 
quarter of the area of the Great Pyramid, 
underwent several changes of plan, and was 
probably never finished. Its lowest sixteen 
courses arc of red granite, and it is possible 
that the whole was to be covered in this way; 
some of the passages are also lined with gran¬ 
ite, occasionally carved into palace-facade dec¬ 
oration. From the complex comes a statue of 
the king and his wife, Queen Khamerernebty 
II, while a number of fine triad statues have 
also been discovered. These are among the 
finest examples of Old Kingdom sculpture 
and are now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. 
Menkaura was succeeded by Shepseskaf 
(2503-2498 bc;) who chose to be buried in a 
large mastaba-shaped tomb (the Mastabat 
Fara‘un) midway between SAQQARA and 

G. A. Rf.ISXER, The temples of the third pyramid at 
Giza (Cambridge, MA, 1931). 

I. E. S. Edwards, The pyramids of Egypt, 5th ed. 
(Harmondsworth, 1993), 137-51. 

Menna (c. 1400 bc) 

An ‘estate inspector’ in the reign of Thutmose 
iv (1400-1390 bc), whose Theban tomb ( it 
69) at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna included impor¬ 
tant scenes depicting land survey. The wall 
decorations also include the agricultural activ¬ 
ities overseen by Menna, as well as religious 
and funerary scenes, including the weighing of 
the i ieart. 

B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography 1/1 (Oxford, I960), 134—9. 

Mentuemhat 0 .700-650 bc;) 

‘Prince of the city’ and ‘fourth prophet of 
Amun’, who rose to power in the Theban 
region during the reign of the Kushite 
pharaoh taharqo (690-664 bc), on whose 
behalf he constructed various additions to the 
temple at karnak. His career spanned the 
transition between the 25 th and 26th 
Dynasties, surviving the turmoil of the mid 
seventh century bc, during which Egypt was 




twice conquered by the Assyrians and 
Taharqo’s successor, Tanutamani, struggled for 
several years against the Saite pharaohs, nekau 
i (672-664 kc) and psamtek i (664-610 bc:). 
Despite the fact that the first Assyrian inva¬ 
sion involved the sacking of Thebes by 
Esarhaddon’s armies, Mentuemhat appears 

Grey granite statue of Mentuemhat, from the 
Cachette Court in the temple of Amun at Karnak. 
25th-26th Dynasties, c.6 70 bc, ii. 1.37 m. 

(Cairo cc42236) 

to have maintained a tight grip over the 
Theban region, and a cylinder-seal of 
Ashurbanipal described him as ‘king of 
Thebes’. At the death of Tanutamani in 
c.656 bc, he controlled a large area, some¬ 
times described as a ‘temple state’, stretching 
from Aswan in the south to perhaps as far 
north as Hermopolis Magna. 

Mentuemhat’s tomb in western Thebes 
(tt 34) consisted of a decorated subterranean 
burial chamber and a huge stone and mud- 
brick superstructure with tall papyrus 
columns in its forecourt. The reliefs are ty pi¬ 
cal of the archaizing tendencies of the 25th 
and 26th Dynasties, drawing extensively on 
the styles and subject-matter of scenes in Old 
and New Kingdom tombs. 

J. Leci •Ant, Mentouemhal, quatribne prophete 
(I Amon, prince de la ville (Cairo, 1961). 

D. Eigner, Die monumenlalen Grabbuuten der 
Spatzeit in der thebanischen Nekropole (Vienna, 


‘Birth name’ (meaning ‘montu is content’), 
held by a series of three Theban kings of the 
11th Dynasty’ (2055-1985 bc) and one of their 
ancestors. Their reigns (particularly that of 
Mentuhotep u) heralded a return to political 
stability after the comparative confusion and 
decentralization of the First Intermediate 
Period (2181-2055 bc). Very little is known 

about Mentuhotep /, who was the father of 
intef i (2125-2112 bc), the first fully recog¬ 
nized ruler of the Theban region. Most 
chronologies therefore list Intef i, rather than 
Mentuhotep I, as the earliest 11 th-Dynastv 
ruler of the Theban region. In the reign of 
Senusret i, however, both Mentuhotep i and 
Intef I were given their own religious cults and 
the fictitious Horus namcTepy-aa (‘ancestor’) 
was invented for Mentuhotep i, since he and 
Intef i were both recognized as the founders of 
the Middle Kingdom. 

The most important of the four 11th- 

Painted sandstone head of a statue of Mentuhotep 
u Nebhepetra, from his cult temple at Deir el~ 
Bahri. 11th Dynasty, c.2055-2004 bc, ii. 38 cm. 

Dynasty rulers of Egypt was Mentuhotep ii 
Nebhepetra. Me assumed control of the coun¬ 
try as a whole, primarily by overthrowing the 
I lerakleopolitan 10th Dynasty, who had been 
the principal rivals of the early 11 th-Dynastv 
rulers. I Ie subsequently moved the capital to 
Thebes, re-established the post of VIZIER, 
launched military campaigns against the 
LIBYANS and the Sinai BEDOUIN, and regained a 
certain degree of control over nubia. At deir 
EL-BAMRl, in western Thebes, he built an 
unusual terraced funerary complex, the pre¬ 
cise reconstruction of which is a matter of 
debate, although it appears to have been an 
ingenious combination of elements of the safe 

tomb, the Old Kingdom mastaba and the 
symbolism of the primeval MOUND. Six hun¬ 
dred years later its plan was copied and elabo¬ 
rated by hatshepsut (1473-1458 bc) in the 
design of her mortuary temple, which is locat¬ 
ed immediately to the north. Mentuhotep n’s 
complex incorporated a cenotaph containing a 
seated statue of the king as well as the tombs of 
six of his queens, including a magnificent set 
of limestone sarcophagi. His successor, 
Mentuhotep in Sankhkara (2004-1992 bc), was 
buried in another valley a short distance to the 
south of Deir el-Bahri, but his funerary com¬ 
plex, consisting of a similar combination of 
ramp and podium, was unfinished and unin¬ 
scribed. lie rebuilt the fortresses along the 
border of the eastern Delta, where a cult was 
later dedicated to himself and the 
Hcraklcopolitan ruler Khetv m at the site of 
el-Khatana. The name of the final 11 th- 
Dynastv ruler, Mentuhotep n Nebtawyra 
(1992-1985 bc), is recorded on a stone bowl 
from el-llsht, but would otherwise be practi¬ 
cally unknown if it were not for the rock- 
carved records of his quarrying expeditions to 
the Wadi el-Hudi amethyst mines and the 
Wadi I Iammamat siltstone quarries, the latter 
venture being led by a vizier named 
Amenemhat, who may have later become 
amknemhat i (1985-1955 bc), the founder of 
the 12th Dynasty (1985-1795 bc). 

E. Naville, The xith Dynasty temple at Deir el- 
Bahari , 3 vols (London, 1907-13). 

H. E. WlNLOCK, The slain soldiers ofNebhepetre 
Mentuhotep (New York, 1945). 

—, The rise and fall of the Middle Kingdom in 
Thebes (New York, 1947). 

D. Arnold, Der Tern pel des Kiinigs Mentuhotep 
von Deir el-Baliari, 2 vols (Mainz, 1974). 

N. Grimal, A history of ancient Egypt (Oxford, 
1992), 153—8. 

Merenptah (1213-1203 bc) 

The extraordinary length of the reign of R AME- 
sr:s ii (1279-1213 bc) meant that at least twelve 
of his sons died before him, including 
Khacmwaset, who was for several years the 
appointed heir. Merenptah, the fourth 
pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, was therefore 
probably already in his fifties by the time he 
came to the throne. Apart from an incident in 
which he sent food supplies to the ailing IIIT- 
ttte empire, the major event of his reign was 
an attempted invasion by the Libyans and sea 
peoples, which he managed to fend off in the 
fifth year after his accession. Just as Rameses II 
had recorded the Battle of qadksh in both 
prose and poetry, so Merenptah described his 
victory in prose form on a wall beside the sixth 
pylon at karnak and in poetic form on a large 




granite stele (Egyptian .Museum, Cairo), 
which was discovered by Flinders Petrie in 
1896 in the first court of Merenptah’s mortu¬ 
ary temple at western THEBES. This monument 
is usually described as the Israel Stele because 
it is the earliest surviving Egyptian text to 
mention the people of ISRAI-.I . (in a list of cities 
and states defeated by Merenptah). Little of 
the mortuary temple now remains in situ and it 
mostly consisted of re-used stone blocks, 
columns and stelae from the nearby mortuary 
temple of amenhotep tu. 

Unusually, given the generally poor preser¬ 
vation of palaces, the best surviving structure 
from Merenptah’s reign is the royal residence 
that he built next to the temple of Ptah at Mem¬ 
phis. It was excavated in 1915-19 by Clarence 
Fisher, and many fragments of masonry are 
now in the collection of the University 
Museum of Philadelphia. His other major sur¬ 
viving monument is tomb k\ 8 in the valley 
of Tin. kings, which still contains fragments of 
his stone sarcophagi, although the magnificent 
granite lid of the outer sarcophagus was exca¬ 
vated from an intact royal burial at taxis, 
where it had been re-used to cover the coffins 
and mummy of PSLSi.WTS (Pascbakhaenniut) I 
(1039-991 bc). The body of Merenptah him¬ 
self was found among the cache of mummies 
reinterred in the tomb of Amenhotep n 
(k\ 35). Following the brief reign of a usurper 
called Amcnmessu, he was succeeded by his 
son setyh (1200-1194 bc). 

W. M. F. Petrie, Six temples (It Thebes (London, 

G. F.. Smith, ‘Report on the unwrapping of the 
mummy of Mcncphtah’, ASAE 8 (1907), 


G. A. Wainwrigj it, ‘Memeptah’s aid to the 
Hittites\ JEA 46 (1960), 24-5. 

M. LlCHTllMlM, Ancient Egyptian literature II 
(Berkeley, 1976), 73-8. 

D. G. Jeffreys, The survey of Memphis i 
(London, 1985), 19-20. 

Mereruka (< .2350 bc) 

Vizier, chief justice and inspector of the 
prophets and tenants of the pyramid of Teti 
(2345-2323 bc) of the early 6th Dynasty. Also 
known by die nickname ‘Mera’, he was the son 
of Nedjetempet, a royal acquaintance. 1 lis wife 
was the Princess Watetkhethor (nicknamed 
Seshseshet) and, in keeping with the practice 
of the Old Kingdom, it was due to his connec¬ 
tions with the royal family that he held high 

His mastaba tomb at SAQQARA is the largest 
known at the site, with some thirty-two rooms, 
and incorporated the burial of his wife and 
son, Meri-Teti, as well as himself. The tomb is 

elegantly decorated with numerous daily-life 
scenes, including depictions of attempts to 
domesticate gazelles and hyenas (see animal 
husbandry), and craft activities which are a 
valuable source of information on the society 
and economy of the 6th Dynasty. The funer¬ 
ary statue of Mereruka is situated at the north¬ 
ern side of his six-columned hall. The masta¬ 
ba also incorporated a number, of serdabs 
(statue chambers). 

G. E. J. Darkssv, Le mastaba tie Mera (Cairo, 

P. Dlt.ll, The mastaba of Mereruka (Chicago, 

B. Porter and R. I.. B. Moss, Topographical 
bibliography ui/2 (Oxford, 1978), 525—37. 

rneref chest 

Ceremonial chests containing linen or cloth¬ 
ing of four different colours, which symbol¬ 
ized the cloth that was used to wrap up the 
body of OSIRIS. Each of the four chests was 
bound up on the outside and decorated with 
four upright ostrich feathers. From the 17th 
Dynasty (1650-1550 bc) to the Roman period 
a ritual called ‘consecration of the merel 
chests’ or ‘dragging the merel chests’ was ce¬ 
lebrated by the pharaoh and often depicted in 
temple reliefs. The four chests symbolized the 
four corners of the earth and therefore the 
whole of Egypt, and the ritual involved the 
presentation of each chest four times before a 
god. The symbolic link between Egypt and the 
chests appears to have derived at least partly 
from the phonetic similarity between die term 
la merel (merel chest) and the phrase la mery 
(beloved land). Since the dismemberment, 
reassembly and revival of the dead god was a 
crucial element in the myth of Osiris, the pre¬ 
sentation of the chests also symbolized resur¬ 
rection and renewal. 

A. Egberts, ‘Consecrating the wmv-chcsts: 
some reflections on an Egyptian rite', Akten 
M tine hen, 1985 , ed. S. Schoskc (Hamburg, 1989), 

R. H. Wilkinson, Symbol and magic in Egyptian 
an (London, 1994), 175-6. 


Theban cobra-goddess, the literal meaning of 
whose name is ‘she who loves silence’. Her cult 
is primarily attested during the New Kingdom 
(1550-1069 lie). She was thought to live on the 
mountain overlooking the valley of the 
kings, which in ancient times bore her name; 
as a result of this topographic connection, she 
was also sometimes known as ‘the peak of the 
west’. Her realm encompassed the whole of 
the Theban necropolis, and she was especially 
revered by the workmen of heir El.-MEDINA 

Ostracon showing the workman Khnummose 
worshipping the serpent form of the goddess 
Meretseger. I9tli Dynasty, c .1200 uc, painted 
limestone, from Deir el-Medina, Thebes, 
h. 10.5 cm. (ea8510) 

who dedicated many stelae to her. She was 
believed to punish by blindness or venom 
those who committed crimes, and the stelae 
frequently seek to make atonement for such 
wrongdoings in the hope of a cure. The cult of 
Meretseger began to decline from the 21st 
Dynasty (1069-945 bc) onwards, at rough I \ 
the same pace as the abandonment of the 
Theban necropolis itself. 

B. Bri a ere. Meet Seger a Deir el Medinch (Cairo, 

M., Ancient Egyptian literature n: The 
New Kingdom (London, 1976), 107—9. 

Merimda Beni Salama 

Predynastic settlement site in the western 
margin of the Delta, about 60 km northwest 
of Cairo, where excavations by German 
archaeologists in 1928—39 and the 1980s ha\e 
revealed the earliest evidence for fully seden¬ 
tary village life in the Nile valley. The 
‘Merimda’ phase of the Lower Egyptian pri - 
dynastic period appears to have been rough 
ly contemporary with the late Badarian and 
Amratian phases in Upper Egypt. The total 
extent of the site is estimated at 180,000 
sq. m, and some areas of debris are up to 2 m 
deep. Radiocarbon dates suggest that it was 
inhabited between about 5000 and 4500 u< 
Karl Butzer has estimated the population at 
about sixteen thousand, but this may be an 
overestimate, since Barry Kemp argues that 
the entire site may have been one small bur 
gradually shifting community rather than a 
large set of simultaneously occupied villages. 
The graves within the settlement are largely 
those of children and are entirely lacking in 
grave goods. 

The potten and lithies are similar to those 




of the Fayum A culture (see faylm region), 
but the shapes and decoration of the pottery 
are more elaborate and varied at Merimda. 
Polished black pottery has been found in the 
upper strata, as well as pear-shaped stone 
maceheads possibly deriving from Asiatic 
examples, which have been interpreted as pro¬ 
totypes for the Upper Egyptian Gerzean 
maceheads (see mace). The presence of fish 
bones, hooks, net weights and harpoons sug¬ 
gests that fishing was an important subsistence 

The earliest houses at Merimda Beni 
Salama were simple wind-breaks and pole¬ 
framed huts, while the later strata include the 
remains of mud-brick huts (probably with 
pitched roofs), measuring no more than 3 m in 
diameter. The high level of organization with¬ 
in the villages is indicated by the presence of 
numerous ‘granaries’, taking the form of jars 
or baskets, and by the fact that a number of the 
mud huts were laid out in rough rows as if 
arranged along streets. 

H. Junker, Vorlaufer Bericht fiber die Grabung der 
Akademie dcr Wissenschaften in Wien auf der 
neolitischen Siedliing von Merimde-Beni Sahhne , 

6 vols (Vienna, 1929—40). 

B. J. Kemp, ‘Merimda and the theory of house 
burial in prehistoric Egypt’, CdE 43 (1968), 

M. A. Hoffman, Egypt after the pharaohs (New 
York, 1979), 167-81. 

J. Eiwanger, Merirnde-Benisaldme , 2 vols (Mainz, 

merkhet see astronomy and astrology 
Merneptah see mkrenptah 


Type-site of the Meroitic period (r.300 uc- 
ad 350), located on the east bank of the Nile in 
the Butana region of Sudan, excavated by John 
Garstang, George Reisner and Peter Shinnie. 
To the east of the town of Meroe, which 
became the centre of the Kushite kingdom in 
the fifth century bc, and adjacent to the mod¬ 
ern village of Begarawiya is a cemetery of 
small pyramidal royal tomb chapels of the 
Meroitic period, the earliest of which were 
located at die southern end. 

The city includes a number of palaces (pos¬ 
sibly two-storeyed), a temple of Isis dating to 
the napaean period (c. 1000—300 ik.) and a 
temple of Amun which was established in the 
seventh century BC and elaborated in the first 
century ad. To the east of the town there was 
also a temple of apedemak, the Nubian lion- 
god, founded in the third century bc. One of 
the most striking features of the site is the 

presence of large slag heaps deriving from the 
smelting of iron, which may well have been 
one of the mainstays of the city’s prosperity. It 
was once suggested that the Meroitic kingdom 
supplied iron to the rest of Africa, but iron 
artefacts do not appear to have been unusually 
prominent in Meroitic settlements or graves 
and it was not until the post-Meroitic period 
that iron became crucial to the economy of 

New insights into the end of the Meroitic 

above Fragment of relief from the south wall of the 
funerary chapel of pyramid Nil at Meroe, which 
probably belonged to Queen Shakdakhete ( c. 2nd 
century tie), the first female ruler of Meroe. She is 
here shown enthroned with a prince and protected 
by the wings of the goddess Isis. n. 2.52 m. (1:1719) 

LEFT Gold ornament representing some form of 
canine animal, perhaps a jackal. Although it is 
said to have been found near Gyrene in Libya, it is 
dearly of Meroitic work and is closely paralleled 
by other examples found in the pyramid of Queen 
Amanishakhelo. 1st century tic, it. 3.1 cm. 

period - suggesting that there was no dramat¬ 
ic collapse of the civilization but simply a 
process of cultural change — have been provid¬ 
ed by the excavation of a ‘post-Meroitic’ 
tumulus burial at the site of el-l lobagi, about 
60 km southwest of Meroe. 

D. Dunham and S. Chapman, The royal 
cemeteries of Kush, m -v (Boston, 1952—63). 

P. L. Si IINNIE, Meroe: a civilization of the Sudan 
(London, 1967). 

P. L. Shinnie and E J. Kense, ‘Meroitic iron 

i—prrr 5 K Erau 



working 1 , Meroitic studies, ed. N. B. Millet and 
A. L. Kelley (Berlin, 1982), 17-28. 

P. Lenoble and N. D. M. Si iarif, ‘Barbarians at 
the gates? the royal mounds of el-Hobagi and the 
end of Meroe 1 , Antiquity 66 (1992), 626-35. 

L. Torok, Me roe city: an ancient African capital 
(London, 1997). 

Meroitic see meroe 

Mersa Matruh (anc. Paraetonium) 
Harbour-site on the Egyptian Mediterranean 
coast, about 200 km w r est of Alexandria, which 
was the site of the Ptolemaic city of 
Paraetonium. In the late second millennium 
bc colonists from the eastern Mediterranean 
appear to have founded the first small settle- 

Basalt vessel of a type thought to he of Libyan 
origin; similar stone vessels have been excavated 
from graves in the vicinity of Mersa Matruh. 

Early 3rd millennium DC, it. 27.5 cm. (t: i64354) 

ment at Mersa Matruh on an island in the 
lagoon. The excavated artefacts from the 
island include large quantities of Svro- 
Palestinian, Minoan, Cypriot and Mycenaean 
pottery vessels, indicating a wide range of 
trade links between the Aegean region and the 
north African coast during the New Kingdom 
(1550—1069 bc). The earliest traces of 
Egyptian occupation in the area are the ruins 
of a fortress of Rameses n (1279—1213 bc) at 
Zawiyat Umm el-Rakham, about 20 km to the 
west of the site of Paraetonium. 

D. White , ‘Excavations at Mersa Matruh, 
summer 1985’, NARCE 131 (1985), 3-17. 

—, ‘The 1985 excavations on Bates 1 Island, 

Marsa Matruh 1 , JARCE 23 (1986), 51-84. 

—, ‘University of Pennsylvania expedition to 
Marsa Matruh, 1987\ NARCE 139 (1987), 8-12. 


Goddess of childbirth, who is represented in 
the form of a female-headed birth-brick (on 
which ancient Egyptian women delivered their 
children) or as a woman with a brick on her 
head. At the time of a child’s birth she also 
determined its destiny. However, from the 
New' Kingdom (1550-1069 bc) onwards this 
role could be taken by the male god shay . 
Papyrus Westcar describes how she told each 
of the first three kings of the 5th Dynasty 
(2494-2345 bc), all of whom were buried at 
ABL'SIR, that they would eventually come to 
rule Egypt. She was also a funerary goddess 
and was present at the judgement of the 
deceased to aid in their rebirth into the after¬ 
life, just as she had in life itself. 

See also bes; iieket; taweret. 

G. Pinch, Magic in ancient Egypt (London, 

1994), 127-8. 


Term used to describe the area covered by 
modern Iraq, encompassing at various times 
the ancient Kingdoms of akkad, sumer, Baby¬ 
lonia and ASSYRIA. The word derives from the 
Greek term meaning ‘[the land] between the 
rivers 1 , the rivers being the Tigris and 

M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia (New 
York and Oxford, 1990). 

metals and metalworking see copper; 
gold; iron and silver 

Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 bc) 
Chronological phase that began with the reign 
of the Theban ruler mentuhotep ii 
Nebhepetra (2055-2004 bc) and ended with 
the demise of the 13th Dynasty (cl650 bc); it 
is usually divided into two phases, the early 
Middle Kingdom (consisting of the late 11th 
and early 12th Dynasties) and the late Middle 
Kingdom (from the reign of SENUSRET iii to 
the end of the 13th Dynasty). The diverse lit¬ 
erary output of the Middle Kingdom, includ¬ 
ing the proliferation of wisdom literature, 
provides some insights into the social and 
political concerns of the period, although 
many of the classic texts, such as the Tale of 
Sinuhe and the Discourse of Neferty , are diffi¬ 
cult to analyse because of uncertainty as to 
their original functions, audience and intent. 

In the New Kingdom the king lists suggest 
that Mentuhotep n was regarded as the 
founder of the Middle Kingdom, and at this 
period his funerary monument at detr 
el-baiiri was evidently considered to be one of 
the finest achievements of the period. Little 
textual evidence has survived concerning 

Mentuhotep IV Ncbtawyra, the last 11th- 
Dynasty ruler, but it is possible that his vizier, 
Amenemhat, may be the same individual as the 
first king of the 12th Dynasty, amenemhat i, 
who established a new capital called 
Amenemhatitjtawy (‘Amenemhat takes posses¬ 
sion of the two lands 1 ), often abbreviated to 
Itjtawy. The archaeological remains of this city, 
where the Residence (royal court) was situated 
until the end of the Middle Kingdom, have not 
yet been located. It is usually assumed to have 
been on the west bank of the Nile in the vicin¬ 
ity of the pyramid complexes of Amenemhat i 
and his successor Senusret i at el-lisht, mid¬ 
way between Memphis and Meidurn. 

The early 12th Dynasty was characterized 
by the clarification of the boundaries of 
nomes, the agricultural development of the 
fayum and the gradual annexation of Lower 
nubia. The principal sources of evidence for 
the royal court of the 12th Dynasty derive 
from the pyramid complexes located at el- 
Lisht, F.L-LAiiUN (Senusret n), DAHSHUR 
(Amenemhat II, Senusret ill and Amenemhat 
ill) and iiawara (Amenemhat in), but elite 
provincial cemeteries at sites such as asyut, 
DRIB el-bersiia, meir and BEM HASAN also con¬ 
tinued to flourish during the early 12th 
Dynasty at least. By the late 12th Dynasty the 
royal pyramid complexes began to be sur¬ 
rounded by more substantial remains of the 
tombs of courtiers, perhaps indicating 
stronger links between the nomarchs (provin¬ 
cial governors) and the Residence. 

As far as the non-funerary architecture of 
the period is concerned, a few examples of 
religious buildings have survived, including 
the earliest known phases of the temple of 
Amun at KARNAK and the temple of Sobek and 
Amenemhat ill at MEDINET MAADI, but many 
appear to have been dismantled and re-used in 
the course of the foundation of the temples of 
the New Kingdom. ABYDOS became particular¬ 
ly important as a centre of pilgrimage as a 
result of the increasing significance of the god 
osiris, whose burial place was identified w ith 
that of djer, in the Umm cl-Qa‘ab region of 
the site. 

The reign of Senusret m seems to have con¬ 
stituted a watershed in the Middle Kingdom, 
both in terms of the administrative system and 
the nature of the surviving funerary remains. 
It was during his reign that the string of 
FORTRESSES in Nubia were strengthened, thus 
consolidating the Egyptian grip on the 
resources of Nubia. At the same time, the 
excavation of a channel through the first Nile 
cataract at Aswan would have had the effect of 
allowing boats to travel unhindered from the 
second cataract to the Mediterranean coast. 




Although Manetho’s 13th Dynasty evident¬ 
ly continued to rule from Itjtawy, there appear 
to have been a large number of rulers with 
very short reigns, none of whom were in 
power for long enough to construct funerary 
complexes on the same scale as their 12 th- 
Dvnasty predecessors. In other respects, how¬ 
ever, the material culture and political and 
social systems of the late 12th and 13th 
Dynasties were relatively homogeneous. W. C. 
Hayes argued that the real central power dur¬ 
ing the 13 th Dynasty resided largely with the 
VIZIERS, but it is now considered more likely 
that royal authority was maintained, despite a 
general lack of political continuity. The frag¬ 
mented nature of the 13th Dynasty undoubt¬ 
edly had a damaging effect on the control of 
Egypt’s borders, resulting in a relaxation of 
the grip over Nubia and an influx of Asiatics in 
the Delta (particularly apparent in the archae¬ 
ological remains at tell ei-DAB‘a in the east¬ 
ern Delta). The end of the Middle Kingdom 
was marked by the abandonment of Itjtawy at 
roughly the same time that the minor rulers of 
parts of the Delta were supplanted by the 
heka-khasjpt (‘rulers of foreign lands’), ren¬ 
dered in Greek as the IIYKSOS. 


H. E. Wini.ock, The rise and fall of the Middle 
Kingdom in Thebes (New York, 1947). 

W. C. Haves, A papyrus of the late Middle 
Kingdom in the Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, 

G. Posener, Litlerature el politique dans TEgypte 
de la xti dynastic (Paris, 1956). 

I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd and N. G. L. 
Hammond (ed.), Cambridge Ancient History 1/2: 
Early history of the Middle East , 3rd ed. 
(Cambridge, 1971), 464-531. 

J. Bourriau, Pharaohs and mortals: Egyptian art 
in the Middle Kingdom (Cambridge, 1988). 

D. Franke, ‘Zur Chronologie des Mitderen 
Reiches: I & II’, Orient alia 57 (1988), 1 13-38, 

R. B. Parkinson, Voices from ancient Egypt: an 
anthology of Middle Kingdom writings (London, 

S. Quirke (ed.), Middle Kingdom studies (New 
Malden, 1991). 


ITHYPhaluc fertility god and symbol of male 
potency, who served also as the protector of 
mining areas in the Eastern Desert. He was 
associated first with the site of koptos and 
later with akhmim, which became known as 
Panopolis in the Ptolemaic period, because of 
the Greeks’ association of Min with the god 
Pan. Characteristic Pharaonic depictions show 

him as a mummiform human figure holding 
his erect phallus with his left hand, while his 
right arm is raised in a smiting gesture, with a 
flail simultaneously poised above his hand. He 

Ceremonial palette carved in the form of schematic 
birds ’ heads at the lop and bearing the symbol of 
the fertility-god Min in raised relief Late 
Predynastic, c .3100 lie, schist, from cl-Amra, 
it. 29.5 cm. (E435501) 

usually wore a low crown surmounted by two 
plumes and with a long ribbon trailing down 
behind him. At least as early as the 6th 
Dynasty (2345-2181 bc), he was particularly 
associated with the long (or ‘cos’) lettuce (lac- 
tuca saliva), probably because of a perceived 
link between the milky sap of lettuces and 
human semen, and the depictions of Min 
often show a set of lettuces placed on an offer¬ 
ing table beside him. 

He was already being worshipped in the late 
Predynastic period (c.3100 bc), when his 
emblem - a strange shape consisting of a hor¬ 
izontal line embellished with a central disc 
flanked by two hemispherical protrusions 
(variously interpreted as a door-bolt, barbed 
arrow, lightning bolt or pair of fossil shells) - 
was depicted on pottery vessels, maccheads 
and palettes. This emblem, often placed on a 
standard, later became part of the hieroglyphic 
representation of the god’s name and also that 
of the ninth Upper Egyptian nome, of which 
Akhmim was the capital. 

An ink drawing on a stone bowl from the 
tomb of the late 2nd-Dvnasty king 
Khasekhemwy (c.2686 bc:) is probably the ear¬ 
liest example of the anthropomorphic, ithv- 
phallic portrayal of Min, but there are also 

three limestone colossal statues excavated by- 
Flinders Petrie at the site of Koptos. If these 
figures (now in the Ashmolean Museum, 
Oxford) date to the Early Dynastic period 
(3100-2686 bc), as many scholars have sug¬ 
gested on art-historical grounds, they would 
be the earliest surviving three-dimensional 
versions of the anthropomorphic aspect of 
Min. This was evidently the form taken by a 
statue of the god which, according to the 
PALERMO stone, a king list dating to the 5th 
Dynasty (2494—2345 bc), was carved by royal 
decree in the 1st Dynasty. 

In a 5th-Dynasty tomb at Giza a ‘procession 
of Min’ is mentioned, and it has been suggest¬ 
ed that he may have featured in the pyramid 
texts as ‘the one who raises his arm in the 
east’. In the Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 bc) 
the cult of Min—like that of soped, another 
deity of the Eastern Desert—was often assim¬ 
ilated with the myth of horus, and he was 
sometimes described as the son of ISIS. At 
other times, however, he was considered to be 
part of a triad, with Isis as his consort and 
Horus as their son. 

By the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), Min 

Fragment of a basalt clepsydra ('water clock') 
carved with scenes of offering involving the 
Macedonian king, Philip Arrhidaeus, and (on the 
left) an ithyphallic figure ofMin. Macedonian 
period, c.320 bc, it. 35 cm. (f.a938) 

had effectively become the primeval creator- 
god manifestation of amun. The ceremonies 
surrounding the coronations and jubilees of 
Egyptian kings (see SED festival) therefore 
usually incorporated a festival of Min 
designed to ensure the potency of the 
pharaoh. Senusret i (1965-1920 bc) is por¬ 
trayed in the act of performing certain jubilee 
rituals in front of Min on a limestone relief 




now in the Petrie Museum, London (see kop- 
tos for illustration). A Min festival is also 
depicted among the reliefs in the second court 
of the temple of Rameses in (1184—1153 uc) at 
MKDINET HAUL, w'here the king is shown scyth¬ 
ing a sheaf of wheat in recognition of Min’s 
role as an agricultural god. 

W. M. F. Petrie, Koptos (London, 1896), pis 

R. Germer, ‘Die Bedeutung dcs Lattichs als 
Pflanze dcs Min’, SAKS (1980), 85-7. 

J. R. OGDON, ‘Some notes on the iconography of 
Min’, BES 7 (1985-6), 29-41. 

B. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: anatomy of a 
civilization (London, 1989), 79-81, 85, fig. 28. 

R. H. Wilkinson, ‘Ancient Near Eastern raised- 
arm figures and the iconography of the Egyptian 
god Min’, BES ii (1991-2), 109-18. 

Minshat Abu Omar 

Predvnastic and Early Dynastic cemetery site 
located in the eastern Delta, about 150 km 
northeast of Cairo, which, like the roughly 
contemporary settlement at maadi, shows evi¬ 
dence of trade with southern Palestine. 
Excavations in the late 1970s and 1980s 
revealed a sequence of nearly four hundred 
graves stretching from Naqada n to the 1st 
Dynasty. Out of a total of about two thousand 
pottery vessels, twenty were definitely identi¬ 
fied as Palestinian imports. The dates of these 
imported vessels (mainly wavy-hand led and 
loop-handled jars) suggest that the Minshat 
Abu Omar trade links with the Levant began 
slightly later than those of Maadi but contin¬ 
ued until a slightly later date. There is also a 
larger proportion of Gerzean pottery at 
Minshat Abu Omar than at Maadi, suggesting 
much stronger links with Upper Egyptian late 
Predvnastic sites. An auger-bore survey of the 
surrounding region has indicated the presence 
of late Predvnastic and Early Dynastic settle¬ 
ment about 500 m from the cemetery. 

K. Kroeper and D. WlLDUNG, Minshat Abu 
Omar: Miinchner Osldelta-Expeelition I orberichl 
1978-1984 (Munich, 1985). 

K. Kroeper, ‘The excavations of the Munich 
East-Delta expedition in Minshat Abu Omar’, 

The archaeology oj the Nile Della: problems and 
priorities , ed. C. M. van den Brink (Amsterdam, 
1988), 11-19. 

L. Krzvzamak, ‘Recent archaeological evidence 
on the earliest settlement in the eastern Nile 
delta’, Late prehistory of the Nile Basin and the 
Sahara , ed. L. Krzyzaniak and M. Kobusiewiez 
(Poznan, 1989), 267-85. 

Mirgissa (anc. Iken?) 

Fortified site of the Middle Kingdom 
(2055-1650 uc), located in Lower Nubia, 

The Middle Kingdom fortresses at Mirgissa. 

immediately to the west of the southern end of 
the second Nile cataract, 350 km south of 
modern Aswan. The site has been submerged 
beneath Lake Nasser since the completion of 
the ASWAN HIGH dam in 1971, but the surviving 
remains consisted of a pair of 12th-Dynastv 
fortresses (one on the desert plateau and one 
on the valley floor) as well as two cemeteries. 
The plateau fortress was surrounded bv a 
ditch and inner and outer enclosure walls. 
Covering a total area of some four hectares, it 
was the largest of eleven fortresses built in the 
reign of Senusret m (1874-1855 uc) between 
the second and third cataracts, protecting the 
roval monopoly on trade from the south. The 
site included granaries, an armoury (where 
spears, javelins and shields were manufactured 
and stored), an extensive quayside and a mud- 
lined slipway (so that boats could be dragged 
along the bank, thus avoiding the Kabuka 
rapids). These factors suggest that Mirgissa 
was not only a garrison but also a depot for the 
warehousing of trade goods. 

On the island of Dabenarti, about a kilo¬ 
metre east of Mirgissa, are the remains of an 
unfinished fortified mud-brick outpost, appar¬ 
ently of similar date. The presence of only four 
potsherds at this smaller site suggests that it 
was never actually occupied; it may perhaps 
have been intended as a temporary outpost to 
which the Mirgissa garrison could be trans¬ 
ferred in an emergency. 

S. Clarke, ‘Ancient Egyptian frontier 
fortresses’, fEA 3 (1916), 155-79. 

J. W. Ruby, ‘Preliminary report of the University 
of California expedition to Dabenarti, 1963’, 

Kush 12 (1964), 54-6. 

D. Dunham, Second cataract forts it: Uronarti, 
Shalfak, Mirgissa (Boston, 1967), 141-76. 

J. Vercoutter, Mirgissa, 3 vols (Paris and Lille, 


As might be expected of an implement w hich 
reflects an image, the mirror had both func¬ 
tional and symbolic uses. Mirrors occur from 
at least as early as the Old Kingdom 
(2686-2181 bc). They consist of a flat disc, 
usually of polished bronze or copper, attached 
to a handle. From the Middle Kingdom 
(2055-1650 bc) onwards they take the form of 
a sun-disc, and the handle is frequently repre¬ 
sented as a PAPYRUS stalk, or as the goddess 
HATHOR, to whom two mirrors might be 
offered as they were to the goddess ml i . 
Handles could also take the form of female fig¬ 
ures, probably carrying erotic overtones and 
serving as an extension of the Hathor theme. A 
greater diversity of types of handle is known 
from the New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), per¬ 
haps because metal was commonly used for 
the handles of this time, while w ood and ivon 
were more common in earlier periods. 
Occasional representations show mirrors in 
use, such as a lady applying kohl in the Turin 
Erotic Papyrus (see erotica). 

11. Set iait.r, ‘Die Ausdeutung dcr Spiegelplatte 
als Sonnenscheibc’, ZAS 68 (1932), 1-7. 

C. Evrard-Derriks, ‘A propos des miroirs 
egyptiens a nranche en forme de statuette 
feminine’, Revue des Archeologiques el Historiens 
d'Art de Louvain 5 (1972), 6-16. 

H. Schafer, Egyptian mirrors from the earliest 
limes through the Middle Kingdom (Berlin, 1979). 
C. LlLYQUIST, ‘Mirrors’, Egypt's golden age , ed. 

E. Brovarski et al. (Boston, 1982), 184-8. 

Bronze mirror with a 
handle in the form of a 
papyrus plant 
surmounted by two 
falcons. New 
Kingdom, c. 1300 bc, 
h. 2d cm. (e 132583) 




One of Egypt’s most powerful rivals in west¬ 
ern Asia, the Mitannian state developed in the 
area of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers some 
time before 1500 BC, and was overthrown by 
the hittites and Assyrians around 1370 bc, 
having formerly been their equal. 

The capital of Mitanni was Washshukanni, 
which has tentatively been identified with the 
site of Tell el-Fakhariyeh in Turkey. The coun¬ 
try was probably known to the Egyptians as 
Nahrin, while the Assyrians referred to it as 
Hanigalbat, and the 1 Iittites described it as 
‘the land of the Hurrians’. The names of the 
Mitannian rulers suggest that they were Indo- 
Europeans, although the mass of the popula¬ 
tion were Hurrian, a people whose language is 
unrelated to other main groups. This people 
seem to have originated around the Caspian 
Sea during the third millennium bc, and grad¬ 
ually moved south into Syria. 

The campaigns of thutmose iii (1479— 
1425 BC) took him beyond the vassal cities of 
Syria (see BATTLE OF megiddo) and into the 
Mitanni heartland itself. In the reign of 
Thutmose tv (1400—1390 bc) there were diplo¬ 
matic marriages between the two countries, with 
Mitannian princesses entering the Egyptian 
harim. Such alliances probably sought to offset 
the threat from the Hittite empire. That friendly 
relations between Egypt and Mitanni followed is 
witnessed by the sending, on two occasions, of 
the Nincvite goddess Lshtar (the Mesopotamian 
name for astarte) to Egypt, in order to help 
cure Amenhotep ill (1390-1352 bc) of an illness. 
The amarna letters contain references to 
Mitanni at this time and during the reign of 
Akhenaten (1352-1336 bc). 

G. Contenau, La civilisation des Hittites cl des 
Mitannienes (Paris, 1934). 

M. Liverani, ‘Hurri e Mitanni’, Oriens Antiquus i 
(1962), 253-7. 

H. Klengel, ‘Mitanni: Probleme seiner 
Expansion und politische Struktur’, Revue hittite 
el asianique 36 (1978), 94—5. 

M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia (New 
York and Oxford, 1990), 132-40. 

D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in 
ancient times (Princeton, 1992), 159-74. 

Mnevis (Mer-wer) 

Sacred bull regarded as the ha (‘power’ or 
physical manifestation) of the sun-god at 
Heliopolis. Whereas many sacred birds and 
animals, such as ibises, cats and baboons, were 
slaughtered and mummified in large numbers 
as votive offerings, there was only one apis, 
BUChis or Mnevis bull at any one time. When 
the sacred bull died it was usually buried with 
great ceremony and a new bull with similar 

markings was appointed in its place. While the 
Apis was usually a black bull selected because 
of the diamond-shaped patch of white hair on 
its forehead, the Mnevis bull was required to 
be totally black and was usually represented 
with a sun-disc and uraeus (see wadjyt) 
between its horns. 

The historian PLUTARCH claimed that the 
Mnevis bull was second only to the Apis in 
rank, and that, like the Apis, he gave oracles 
to his worshippers. Just as the mothers of the 
Apis and Buchis bulls were given separate 
cults, so also the mother of the Mnevis bull 
was revered in the guise of the cow-goddess 
Hesat. Ramesside burials of Mnevis bulls are 
known from Arab el-Tawil, to the northeast of 
the destroyed temple of Heliopolis. Eventually 
the cult of the Mnevis bull became subsumed 
into that of the creator-god Ra-ATUM. 

Because of his close connections with the 
sun-god, the Mnevis was one of the few divine 
beings recognized bv Akhenaten (1352-1336 
BC), who stated on one of the ‘boundary stelae’ 
at ei .-amarna: ‘Let a cemetery for the Mnevis 
bull be made in the eastern mountain of 
Akhetaten that he may be buried in it’. 
However the location of this burial, possibly 
close to Akhenaten’s tomb, is unknown. 

W. J. Murnane and C. C. van Siclkn iii, The 
boundary stelae of Akhenaten (London, 1993), 41, 

L. KAkosy, ‘Mnevis’, Lexikon der Agyplologie // , 
cd. W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorf 
(Wiesbaden, 1982), 165-7. 

Mo'alla, el- 

Rock-cut cemetery of the First Intermediate 
Period (2181—2055 bc), located on the east 
bank of the Nile, about 24 km south of Luxor. 
The only two decorated tombs belong to the 
provincial governors Ankhtifi and 
Sobekhotep; the biographical texts on the 
walls of Ankhtifi’s tomb provide important 
historical information concerning the compli¬ 
cated political events in the immediate after- 
math of the end of the Old Kingdom (see 

J. VANDIER, ALP alia, la tombe d\ Inkhliji el la 
tombe de Scbekhotep (Cairo, 1950). 

D. Spanel, ‘The date of Ankhtili of Mo'alla’, 

CM 78 (1984), 87-94. 


Term for a tall cylindrical container, which is 
usually employed to refer to a Roman measure 
of capacity. However, in Classical art and 
Egyptology the term is used also to describe a 
cylindrical headdress (of variable height), 
commonly worn by such deities as the hip¬ 
popotamus-goddess TAWERET. 

MontU (Month, Monthu) 

Falcon-headed god of war, usually represented 
with a headdress consisting of a sun-disc and 
two plumes. His cult is first attested at various 
sites in the Theban region, and major temples, 
dating from the Middle Kingdom (2055—1650 
bc) to the Roman period, were constructed at 
\RMANT, KARNAK, MEDAMUD and 101). His two 
consorts were the goddesses Tjenenvet and 
Ra’ttawy, both also associated with the Theban 
district. The sacred buciiis {bekit) bulls, buried 
in the so-called Bucheum at Armant, were 
regarded as physical manifestations of Montu, 
just as the apis bulls were associated with ptaii 
(see serapeum) and the mnevis bulls linked 
with Ra at Heliopolis. 

Montu played an important role in the 11th 

A red granite Jour-sided monument of unknown 
purpose from the temple complex at Karnak. The 
monument is cawed with six high-relief figures, 
comprising two ofMontu-Ra (one of which is shown 
on the Jar left in the illustration), two of Thutmose 
in, and two of the goddess Hathor. 18th Dynasty, 
reign of Thutmose tit, c.1450 bc, n. 1.78 m. (ml 2) 

Dynasty (2125—1985 bc), when four of the 
kings held the ‘birth name’ yientuhotkp 
(‘Montu is content’). But the emergence of the 
12th Dynasty (1985-1795 bc), including a 
number of rulers named amenemhat (‘Amun 
is in the forefront’), clearly indicated that 
Montu was being overshadowed by another 
Theban deity, amun. Nevertheless Montu 




retained a considerable degree of importance 
as a personification of the more aggressive 
aspects of the kingship, particularly in the 
conquest of neighbouring lands during the 
New Kingdom, and, like Amun, he eventually 
became fused with the sun-god as Montu-Ra. 
G. Legrain, ‘Notes sur le dicu Montou’, BIFAO 
12(1912), 75-124. 

F. Bisson or. la RotjUE, ‘Notes sur le dicu 
Montou', BIFAO AO (1941), 1-19. 

E. K. Werner, The god Montu: from I he earliest 
attestations to the cml ofthe Old Kingdom (Ann 
Arbor, 1986) 

—, ‘Montu and the “falcon ships” of the 
Eighteenth Dynasty’, £ IRCE 23 (1986), 107-23. 

mourning see funerary beliefs 


The preservation of the body was an essential 
part of ancient Egyptian funerary practice, 
since it was to the body that the KA would 
return in order to find sustenance. If the body 
had decayed or was unrecognizable the ka 
would go hungry, and the afterlife be jeopar¬ 
dized. Mummification was therefore dedicated 
to the prevention of decay. 

It has often been stated that the practice 
grew from observing that the hot, dry sand 
preserved those bodies buried in it; and that, 
having seen the effect on Predvnastic corpses, 
the Egyptians sought to improve upon nature. 
This seems an inadequate and flaw ed explana¬ 
tion, and it is probably best to assume that the 
practice evolved simply to preserve the image 
of the body, and as techniques became more 
sophisticated so more of the actual body was 
retained. Some support for this is found in the 
fact that mummies from the Old Kingdom 
(2686-2181 bc) seem to have had their form 
and features preserved in plaster and paint, 
while the actual body decayed away beneath. 

The Greek historian herodotus (l.450 bc) 
provides the best literary account of the mum¬ 
mification process, although the technique 
would have been well past its peak by the time 
he observed it. He states: 

There are those who arc established in this 
profession and who practise the craft. When a 
corpse is brought to them they show the bearers 
wooden models of mummies, painted in imitation 
of the real thing. The best method of embalming is 
said to be that which was practised on one w hose 
name I cannot mention in this context fi.e. osiris]. 
The second method they demonstrate is somewhat 
inferior and costs less. The third is cheapest of all. 
Having indicated the differences, they ask by 
which method the corpse is to be prepared. And 
when the bearers have agreed a price and departed, 
the embalmers arc left to begin their work. 

In the best treatment, first of all they draw out 
the brains through the nostrils w ith an iron hook. 
When they have removed what they can this w av 
they Hush out the remainder with drugs. Next they 
make an incision in the flank with a sharp 
Ethiopian stone [i.c. obsidian blade] through which 
they extract all the internal organs. They then 
clean out the body cavity, rinsing it with palm wine 
and pounded spices, all except frankincense, and 
stitch it up again. And when they have done this 
they cover the corpse with natron for seventy days, 
but for no longer, and so mummify it. After the 
seventy days are up, they wash the corpse and wrap 
it from head to toe in bandages of the finest linen 
anointed with gum, which the Egyptians use for 
the most part instead of glue. Finally they hand 
over the body to the relatives who place it in a 
w ooden coffin in the shape of a man before 
shutting it up in a burial chamber, propped upright 
against a wall. This is the most costly method of 
preparing the dead. 

Those for whom the second and less expensive 
way has been chosen are treated as follows: the 
embalmers fill their syringes with cedar oil which 
they inject into the abdomen, neither cutting the 
flesh nor extracting the internal organs but 
introducing the oil through the anus which is then 
stopped up. Then they mummify the body for the 
prescribed number of days, at the end of which 
they allow the oil which had been injected to 
escape. So great is its strength that it brings away 
all the internal organs in liquid form. Moreover the 
natron eats away the flesh, reducing the body to 
skin and bone. After they have done this the 
embalmers give back the body without further ado. 
The third method of embalming, which is 
practised on the bodies of the poor, is this: the 
embalmers wash out the abdomen with a purge, 
mummify the corpse for seventy days then give it 
back to be taken away. 

Embalmers evidently took some pride in 
their work, and were more highly organized 
than Herodotus implies. The overseers held 
priestly titles, stemming from the distant past 
when only royalty and the highest nobility 
were embalmed. It should be remembered that 
for most of Egyptian history the poorest peo¬ 
ple must have been interred in simple graves 
in the sand and relied on natural preservation. 
In charge of mummification was the ‘overseer 
of the mysteries’ (fiery seshta) who took the 
part of the jackal-god ANUBIS. His assistant 

Coffin and wrapped mummified body of 
Irethoreru. The mummy is furnished with a gih 
mask and covered in a head netting decorated with 
a figure of the sky-goddess Nut over the breast. 

26th Dynasty, c .600 BC (?), from Akhmim, 
it. 1.65 m. (ea20745). 




was the ‘seal-bearer of the god’ (helemip net- 
jer), a title formerly borne by priests of Osiris. 
It was the ‘lector priest’ (fiery fieb) who read 
the magical spells. Together these men over¬ 
saw the ‘bandagers’ (metyw) who undertook 
most of the actual evisceration and bandaging. 

As these titles indicate, mummification was 
nor only a technical process but also a ritual¬ 
ized one, the whole act seeking to repeat the 
stages in the making of the original mummy, 
that of Osiris. We know from two papyri of the 
first century ad describing ‘the ritual of 
embalming’ (copied from earlier sources) that 
very specific rituals accompanied every stage 
of the work. 

Shortly after death a body would be taken to 
a tent known as the ibw or ‘Place of 
Purification’ where it would be washed in 
NATRON solution, before being taken to anoth¬ 
er area enclosing a further tent and known as 
the ‘House of Beauty’ (per nefer), where the 
actual mummification took place. In the first 
method described by Herodotus the body 
would be eviscerated, except for the heart and 
kidneys. This w as achieved by making an inci¬ 
sion in the left flank, which w ould later be cov¬ 
ered by an embalming plate. Prior to the New 
Kingdom (1550-1069 bc), however, eviscera¬ 
tion was not always practised, and the brain 
was usually discarded. 

When the viscera were removed, they were 
dried, rinsed, bandaged and placed in CANOPIC 
JARS or parcels, which w r cre placed with the 
bod)' or, in the Third Intermediate Period 
(1069-747 BC), returned to the body cavity, 
decorated on the exterior with the images of 
the four sons of IIORL’S. Wax figures of the lat¬ 
ter were also frequently included in the viscer¬ 
al packages. Natron would then be piled over 
the corpse to desiccate it. Until quite recently 
scholars believed that the body was placed in a 
liquid natron solution, but experimental work 
has shown that dry natron is more effective. 
From the discovery of a wooden embalming 
table at Thebes, and from the travertine 
embalming tables of the apis bulls at 
Memphis, it is clear that the natron was 
mounded over the body. Packets of natron 
might also be inserted into the body cavity 
during this period, to assist in the dehydration 
process. During this time up to 75 per cent of 
the body weight would be lost. 

After some forty days the temporary stuff¬ 
ing would be removed (although it contained 
part of the deceased and was therefore retained 
for the burial), and the body cavity was packed 
with bags of clean natron, resin-soaked 
bandages and various aromatics in such a way 
as to give the body a more natural shape. In the 
21st Dynasty (1069-945 bc), subcutaneous 




packing was sometimes used to model the 
musculature of arms and legs and fill out the 
face. This was attempted, somewhat over- 
enthusiastically, on the mummy of the 21st- 
Dynasty priestess Henuttawv (wife of the chief 
priesr of Amun, Pinudjem l), whose cheeks 
cracked as the skin shrank and dried. The 
brain cavity was also filled with resin or linen, 
the openings to the skull were packed, and arti¬ 
ficial eyes were often added. 

The whole body was then coated in resin, 
thus adding to the already darkened colour of 
the skin. The Arabs mistook this blackening 
for the effects of bitumen, and it is from their 
word for this - mummiya - that the word 
‘mummy’ derives. In fact bitumen is rarely 
found on mummies, although many have the 
appearance of being coated with it. Cosmetics 
were sometimes added, in order to give the 
body its final life-like appearance, and the 
whole was then bandaged, amulets being 
wrapped among the layers in the appropriate 
places dictated by their function. The type, 
material, and placing of such amulets is 
described in the hook OF TITF. dead. The ban¬ 
daging took some fifteen days, and used many 
metres of linen, much of it from old clothing. 
In the cheaper methods evisceration was 
undertaken through the anus, much as 
Herodotus states, and the body desiccated. 

The entire process - from death to burial - 
usually took seventy days, a period of time 
probably connected with the phases of the dog 
star Sirius (see sottitc: cycle). In the Old 
Kingdom, the deceased was believed to return 
as a star, and the period of mummification 
coincided with the time during which the star 
was invisible. At the end of the process the 
deceased was renewed, and one of the 
embalming spells concludes with the assur¬ 
ance: ‘You w ill live again, you w ill live for ever. 
Behold, you are young again for ever.’ 

Less is known about the mummification of 
animals, although research into the mummifi¬ 
cation of cats and ibises has recently been 
undertaken. A demotic papyrus in Vienna 
records the procedures that accompanied 
mummification of the Apis bull. See also 

G. E. Smi i'I I, A contribution to the study of 
mummification in ancient Egypt with special 
reference to the measures adopted during the 21st 
Dynasty for moulding the form of the body (Cairo, 

A. and E. Cockburn, Mummies , disease and 
ancient cultures (Cambridge, 1980). 

J. Harris and E. F. Wente, An X-ray atlas of the 
royal mummies (Chicago, 1980). 

B. Adams, Egyptian mummies (Aylesbury, 1984). 

C. Andrews, Egyptian mummies (London, 1984). 

A. F. Shore, ‘Human and divine 
mummification’, Studies in pharaonic religion and 
society presented to J. Gmyn Griffith, ed. A. B. 

Lloyd (London, 1992), 226-8. 

L. Troy, ‘Creating a god: the mummification 
ritual’, BACEA (1993), 55-81. 

F. Durand and R. Lighten hero, Mummies: a 
journey into eternity (London, 1994). 

R. Partridge, Faces of pharaohs: royal mummies 
and coffins from ancient Thebes (London, 1994). 

mummy label (Greek tabla) 

During the Greco-Roman period, when 
corpses were regularly being transported from 
the home to the cemetery (and sometimes, if 
the death occurred away from home, back to 
their village), they were usually identified by 
tags made of wood, and occasionally stone. 
Mummy labels were inscribed with short ink 
texts in Greek or demotic (or occasionally in 
both languages), giving such vital information 
as the name, age, home-town and destination 
of the deceased, although some bear more 
elaborate inscriptions ranging from the cost of 
transport to short funerary prayers. In the case 
of poorer individuals, it appears that the labels 
might even have served as cheap stelae or 
tombstones in the graves themselves. 

W. Spiegei.berg, kgyptische undgriechische 
Eigennamen auJ.Mummiene like! ten der rdmischen 
Kaiserzeit (Leipzig, 1901). 

J. C. Siieltox, ‘Mummy tags from the Ashmolean 
Museum, Oxford’, CdE 45 (1970), 334-52. 

F. Baratte and B. Boyaval, ‘Catalogue des 
etiquettes dc momies du Musee du Louvre’, 
CRIPEL1 (1974), 155-264. 

J. Quaegebeur, ‘Mummy labels: an orientation’, 
Texles grecs, demotiques el' biUngues (P. L. Bat. 19), 
ed. E. Boswinkel and P. W. Pcstman (Leiden, 
1978), 232-59. 

Muqdam, Tell el- (anc. Tarcmu; Leontopolis) 
Large settlement site in the central Delta, 
which was probably the power-base of the 
23rd Dynasty (818-715 lie). The eastern sec¬ 
tor of the site of the ancient town of Taremu is 
still dominated by the remains of the temple of 
the local LlON-god Mihos. The large-scale 
removal and re-use of relief blocks from the 
temple has made the building difficult to date 
precisely, although surviving stelae and statu¬ 
ary indicate that there was already a temple at 
Tarcmu in the 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 Be). 
The site is usually assumed to have incorpo¬ 
rated the royal cemetery of the 23rd Dynasty, 
although it has recently been argued that the 
capital at this time may actually have been at 
Khcmenu ( magna). Only the 
tomb of Queen Kama(ma), mother of 
OSORKON in (777-749 bc), has so far been locat¬ 

ed at Leontopolis (to the west of the main 
ruins). During the Ptolemaic period Taremu 
became known as Leontopolis (‘lion city’) and 
was capital of the eleventh Lower Egyptian 
nonie (province). 

E. Na\ ii.i.E, _ ihnas el Medineh (Heracleopolis 
Magna) (London, 1894), 27-31. 

K. A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in 
Egypt (1100-650 lie), 2nd ed. (Warminster, 

1986), 128-30. 

P. A. Spencer and A. J. Spencer, ‘Notes on late 
Liby an Egypt’, jfEA 72 (1986), 198-201. 

C. A. Redmount and R. Friedman, ‘The 1993 
field season of the Berkeley Tell el-Muqdam 
project: preliminary report’, NARCE 164 
(winter 1994), 1-10. 

music, musical instruments 

A great deal of Egyptian religious and secular 
celebration was marked by the performance of 
both music and dance. The depiction of musi 
cians on such late Predynastic artefacts as cer¬ 
emonial palettes and stone vessels indicates 
the importance accorded to music even in pre¬ 
historic times. A w ide variety of instruments 
were played, ranging from pairs of simple 
ivory clappers (probably already depicted on 
Predynastic pottery vessels of the mid fourth 
millennium bc) to the harps and lutes that 
were frequently played at banquets during the 
New Kingdom (1550-1069 bc). 

The importance of music in ancient Egypt is 
attested by the large number of instruments in 
museum collections. Ancient Egyptian musical 
instruments consisted of four basic types: idio- 
phones, membranophones, aerophones and 
cordophones. The idiophones, including clap¬ 
pers, sistra, cymbals and bells, were particular¬ 
ly associated with religious worship. The mem¬ 
branophones included the tambourine, usually 
played by girls at banquets or in outdoor 
ceremonies, and also the drum, a military 
instrument that was sometimes used in reli¬ 
gious processions. The earliest Egyptian aero¬ 
phone was the flute, but there were also double 
‘clarinets’, double ‘oboes’ and trumpets or 
bugles (mostly connected with the army). The 
chordophones consisted of three types: the 
harp (an indigenous Egy ptian instrument) and 
the lute and lyre (both Asiatic imports). 
Perhaps the best indication of the ancient 
Egyptians’ sheer enjoyment of music is to be 
found in a ‘satirical’ papyrus (Musco Egizio, 
Turin) depicting an ass with a large arched 
harp, a lion with a lyre, a crocodile with a lute 
and a monkey w ith a double ‘oboe’. 

IT Hickalann, 45siecles de musique dans fEgypte 
ancienne (Paris, 1956). 

R. D. ANDERSON, Musical instruments (London, 




depicted as a woman wearing a long brightly 
coloured (sometimes feather-patterned) dress 
and a vulture headdress surmounted by the 
‘white crown’ or ‘double crown’ (see crowns). 
She usually also held a long papyrus sceptre 
symbolizing Upper Egypt. Like isis and 
iiatiior she essentially played the role of 
divine mother to the reigning king; therefore 
many amulets representing Mut show her as a 
seated woman suckling a child, often only dis¬ 
tinguishable as Mut rather than Isis because of 
the presence of a crown or an inscription nam¬ 
ing die figure. The royal women holding the 
title of god’s wil l-: or amun were all portrayed 
with iconographic features linking them with 
Mut. She also, however, had a more aggressive 
aspect as a feline goddess closely linked with 
sekiimkt, and many of the statues in her tem¬ 
ple at karnak represent her in this lioness¬ 
headed form. Sekhmet, Mut and tefnlt were 
all daughters of the sun-god, or ‘eyes of r \’, 
sent to terrorize the peoples of the earth. 

II. te Velde, ‘Towards a minimal definition of 
the goddess Mut \JEOL 8/26 (1979-80), 3-9. 

11. de Meulknaere, ‘Isi et Mout dcs mammisi’. 
Stud in N aster JJ, ed. J. Quaegebeur (Leuven, 1982). 
II. te Velde, ‘The cat as sacred animal of the 
goddess Mut’, Studies in Egyptian religion 
dedicated to Professor Jan Zander, ed. M. Heerma 
van Voss ct al. (Leiden, 1982), 127-37. 

—,‘Mut, the eye of Re’, Akten Miinchen 1985 in, 
ed. S. Schoske (Hamburg, 1989), 395-403. 

Detail of a fragment of wall-painting from a 
Theban tomb-chapel showing female musicians 
singing and playing various instruments (lutes, a 
double oboe and a tambourine). 18th Dynasty, 
c.1400 bc, painted plaster, from Thebes, H. 01 cm. 

C. Ziegler, Les instruments de musique egyptiens 
au Musee du Louvre (Paris, 1979). 

L. Manniche, Music and musicians in ancient 
EgVPt (London, 1991). 


Vulture-goddess who usurped the role of 
Amaunet in the Theban triad as consort of 
AMUN and mother of Ki ions. She was usually 

Detaif oj a sandstone stele recording repaired food 
damage, showing the Roman Emperor Tiberius 
offering a figure oj the goddess Maat to the deities 
and Khonsu. Roman period, it) 14-37, 

"• 6 6-3 cm. (ea398) 

Mycerinus see menkaura 


The activities of the gods of the Pharaonic 
period, as well as their interactions with 
humans, are largely encapsulated in divine 
‘attributes’ (such as epithets and iconographic 
features) or such genres as hymns, spells and 
rites, rather than being expressed in conven¬ 
tional narrative forms. On the basis of these 
scattered fragments of information, however, 
it has proved possible to reconstruct versions 
of a variety of‘myths’ of the Pharaonic period, 
associated with such issues as creation, king- 
si he and life after death (see funerary reliefs 
and osiris). There are, however, also a number 
of surviving literary texts that more closely 
approximate to the Classical concept of a nar¬ 
rative-style myth, such as the Tale of Ilortts 
and Seth and the Tale of Isis and the Seven